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Steel city seat grabs eyeballs

- Former CM’s no-contest vow stumps party rivals

Jamshedpur, Jan. 7: Arjun Munda’s declaration that he would not be contesting Lok Sabha elections has spurred hope among partymen eyeing the Jamshepdur seat for long.

As many as four state BJP leaders are believed to be in line for staking claim to the prestigious seat. From former state party president Dineshanand Goswami and spokesperson Amarpreet Singh Kale, even Shailendra Mahto and Abha Mahto are all hoping to contest from the seat.

Another contender, it seems, is BJP vice-president and Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani.

BJP insiders revealed that the party was not averse to fielding someone with a national stature. “BJP fielding an outsider is not something new. The party had fielded Nitish Bharadwaj from Jamshedpur and won the seat in 1996. Irani is certainly in the scheme of things but it is the party’s central election committee which will approve the candidate for this seat,” a senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.

Bharadwaj defeated Janata Dal’s Inder Singh Namdhari by over 55,000 votes in that high-profile parliamentary polls.

Shailendra Mahto and his better half Abha, who have represented the Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat twice, are also vying for a party ticket.

The former is an old hand in politics who has played an important role in the state movement, while Abha has been the face of the BJP’s women’s wing when she claimed the Jamshedpur seat in 1998 and 1999, defeating Independent Rusy Modi and Ghanshyam Mahto of the Congress, respectively.

“Well, I am not in line for the party ticket, but my wife Abha is. She will certainly apply,” said Shailendra, who recently joined the saffron brigade from JVM.

Amarprit Singh Kale, a close aid of Munda, is believed to be in touch with central leaders to push for his candidature. “Kale always nursed an ambition of getting a party ticket from Jamshedpur. With Munda now out of the picture, his ambition has gained momentum,” a BJP insider also close to the former chief minister, said.

Dineshanand Goswami, who lost the 2011 by-elections to Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Ajoy Kumar by over 1,50,000 votes, is also working on the party’s central leadership.

As expected, state BJP chief Ravindra Rai said nothing had been finalised yet. “In fact, no meeting has been held regarding party candidates for the polls,” he said.