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Hemant eyes seat in Odisha

Ranchi, Dec. 22: Chief minister Hemant Soren today unveiled a statue of tribal icon Birsa Munda in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, kicking off his two-day visit to the neighbouring state to spread the JMM’s wings beyond Jharkhand borders.

With an eye with on the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat, Hemant today addressed a public rally at Dharanidhar College grounds and inaugurated a Birsa Munda statue at Choupania in Baripada.

“Hemant will stay in Baripada tonight and hold meetings with senior party leaders tomorrow. He will address another public meeting in Tentalla locality before returning to Ranchi in the evening,” said JMM core committee secretary Vinod Kumar Pandey.

Sources said Mayurbhanj, bordering West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, had been a traditional stronghold of the JMM. The party had won the seat in the 2004 polls.

After JMM chief Shibu Soren’s virtual exit from active politics, Hemant is now trying hard to retain the party bastion.

Further, as per the seat-sharing deal with the Congress, the JMM will get only four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand to contest. In such a situation, the JMM needs to look beyond Jharkhand and try its luck in tribal-dominated areas in other states as well.

“We had fielded candidates in Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Bihar in the last Lok Sabha elections. We did receive positive response in several pockets, but failed to capitalise on initial success due to lack of planning,” said a senior JMM leader.

So this time, Pandey argued, the party was making cautious moves.

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