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JMM insiders fume at outsider
- Ouster of Sudhirda’s widow stirs strife in Jharkhand’s biggest regional party, mirrors anger in Assam

Ranchi, Jan. 29: JMM supremo Shibu Soren has not accepted the resignation of its three disgruntled MLAs, who lashed out against the party whip to withdraw Sabita Mahto’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha seat yesterday, saying the late Sudhir Mahto’s widow had been “humiliated” to placate RJD and its choice Prem Chand Gupta of Haryana.

The three MLAs, Mathura Prasad Mahto, Vidyut Baran Mahto and Jagannath Mahto, all from the Kurmi caste, have a major say in state politics and in their respective constituencies, Tundi, Bahragora and Dumri.

The trio, who had come to Ranchi for a consensus on the Rajya Sabha candidate, shot off a resignation letter once it was evident that the JMM would choose Prem Chand Gupta, a nominee of coalition partner RJD and a close aide of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, over local face Sabita.

The MLAs returned to their constituencies last night itself.

Sabita, who went to Soren Senior’s official residence at Morabadi in the capital briefly, returned to hometown Jamshedpur in the afternoon itself, again after coming to know she was not going to be chosen. JMM party workers, who did not want to be named, said she “appeared distressed” and was “weeping”.

At present, the Hemant Soren government enjoys support of 43 MLAs, including the Speaker, in the 81-member Assembly. They include 18 from JMM, 13 of Congress, five of RJD and seven MLAs from smaller parties and Independents.

In a poll year, the JMM can neither annoy coalition allies, nor afford factionalism within the party.

Hemant kept himself busy with meetings today, and was unavailable for comments, but JMM top brass sounded confident that the entire episode would soon blow over. Party general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said: “It (the resignation of the three MLAs) has not been accepted by our party supremo Shibu Soren. Everything will be settled within the party fold. Things will normalise in the next two days.”

Assembly Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta, originally a JMM MLA from Sarath constituency, told The Telegraph that the letter of resignation from the MLAs had not reached his office so far.

Though none of the MLAs came “all out” against the party, the JMM needs to offer a big olive branch to sort out the emotionally charged issue.

As Mathura Prasad Mahto, Tundi MLA, also a former minister, said, this was a serious matter of “apmaan (dishonour)”.

Humlog do-teen din ke baad Speaker se mil sakte hain. (We may meet the Assembly Speaker in the next two-three days),” he told The Telegraph from Tundi.

Baharagora MLA Vidyut Baran Mahto also said they had given two-three days ultimatum to the party brass to take a decision.

“The humiliation meted out to the widow of our Sudhirda needs to be compensated,” he said.

Dumri MLA Jagannath Mahto could not be reached for his comments. His aide said the MLA was holding a series of public meetings.


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