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RJD eyes JMM bastion

Ranchi, Feb. 9: The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance may have survived the recent Rajya Sabha poll fiasco, but may find itself in troubled waters again over seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha elections.

Merely two weeks after RJD forced JMM to backtrack on its decision to field Sabita Mahto for the biennial, it held a meeting in Koderma today and openly staked claim to Palamau and Chatra parliamentary seats, much to the disliking of Shibu Soren and his party.

“We cannot overlook the sentiments of our party workers. If they want us to contest these seats, we have to honour their feeling, even if it leads us to a friendly fight with secular forces,” said RJD legislature party leader Annapurna Devi.

Currently, JMM MP Kameshwar Baitha holds the Palamau seat. But, sources pointed out that the RJD had won the Palamau and Chatra seats several times in the past.

JMM central committee member Supriyo Bhattacharya said it was his party’s compulsion to hold talks with the RJD before finalising candidates from individual seats. But he admitted that if the RJD demanded Palamau seat, it would again trigger a fresh bickering within the JMM, which somehow managed to pacify its three disgruntled MLAs — Mathura Prasad Mahto, Jagannath Mahto and Vidyut Baran Mahto — in the aftermath of the Sabita Mahto row.

“Dumka, Rajmahal, Giridih, Jamshedpur and Palamau are traditional JMM strongholds. We have to select four among them. In the remaining 10 constituencies, we will support the Congress, RJD and other secular forces. So, we will look to work out an amicable solution,” said Bhattacharya.

The JMM leader added that party workers were in a fix as the leadership had not been able to finalise the seats as yet.

In the past, the JMM had to pay the price of indecisiveness and internal fights a number of times.

In 2009 general elections, BJP candidates were ultimate gainers at several places because rebel JMM candidates jumped into the fray at the behest of JMM chief’s son late Durga Soren.

Soren was forced to step down from the chief minister’s position in 2009 and 2010 because he could not decide which JMM legislator should vacate his or her seat to pave the way for Soren’s entry into the Assembly within six months.

In the just concluded Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress and RJD created enough humiliation for the JMM, which initially planned to field its own candidate but retreated under mounting pressure from allies. But it triggered problems within the JMM.

Though Soren persuaded the three unhappy MLAs to not reign, several second ranking leaders have already joined other parties. They alleged that Soren was more interested in saving his chief minister son Hemant Soren’s chair than the party’s honour.

While forming the coalition government in the state in July last year, the JMM agreed to cede 10 Lok Sabha seats to the Congress. Now, the Congress is interested in joining hands with the RJD for the coming general elections.

“We have held talks on the issue with our central leaders. We want to take the RJD along. We want joint campaigns. But, such things are finalised only after the EC announces schedule. Nevertheless, we’ll request leaders to finalise matters at the earliest,” said state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat.


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