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JMM gives in to partners

Ranchi, Jan. 28: He was termed a “betrayer” by the JMM in 2010. Some four years later, he apparently turned out to be the key to unity among alliance partners in the government led by Hemant Soren’s party.

Punjab-based industrialist K.D. Singh, who entered the Upper House riding on JMM support in 2010 but soon switched allegiance to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool, has resigned from his Rajya Sabha post last week, vacating one more seat from Jharkhand.

Now, apart from the two seats that are being vacated by BJP’s J.P.N. Singh and Independent Parimal Nathwani, one more post will be up for grabs. And the Election Commission is expected to announce a by-election for the seat in the near future.

Therefore, Singh’s resignation two years ahead of 2016, when his term was to end, has paved the way for a reconciliation among ruling allies, who were on the verge of a bitter fight over the coming biennial scheduled for February 7.

So, a day after officially naming Sabita Mahto, widow of late former deputy chief minister Sudhir Mahto, as its candidate, much to the dislike of the RJD and the Congress, JMM backtracked today, understandably under mounting pressure from the two allies.

The RJD’s candidate former Union minister Prem Chand Gupta filed his nomination at Jharkhand Assembly in the last hour today, the final date for filing papers, while Sabita, who had started off from her Jamshedpur house for the state capital, had to return empty-handed.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said the party decided to backtrack from the earlier stand keeping in mind the “alliance dharma”. “But as K.D. Singh’s seat is now vacant, the JMM will stake a claim to it,” he added.

Also, the Congress, which was initially planning to field former Assembly Speaker Alamgir Alam, is said to have decided to support Gupta, considered close to RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Alam had even collected the nomination papers, with the Congress keeping all options open in case of last minute changes in the equations.

Yesterday, RJD leader Sanjay Yadav and minister Annapurna Devi had threatened to pull out of the coalition government if the party’s demand was not fulfilled. Party chief Lalu Prasad met Rahul Gandhi in Delhi. Sources claimed Lalu even held a telephonic conversation with chief minister Hemant Soren on the matter.

In 2010, the JMM had nominated K.D. Singh to Rajya Sabha. But after a few months, he joined the Trinamool and was made party in-charge of north India states.

Since Singh was the lone JMM member in Rajya Sabha then, anti-defection rules could not be applied in his case and he held on to the seat. Last week, he resigned from the RS membership (from Jharkhand) and is eyeing a fresh term from Bengal. He has already filed the nomination as a Trinamool candidate for a second run.

Singh’s election to the Upper House in 2010 was marred by the cash-for-vote controversy and is under scanner of the CBI, which is probing the case.