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BJP veterans sulk over ex-babus
- Final list of nominees by late next week

Ranchi, Feb. 28: BJP, which is expected to announce candidates for the 14 parliamentary seats of Jharkhand latest by March 9, has directed the state party unit to hold a meeting of its election committee soon.

“Names could be staggered or the party may choose to declare all 14 candidates at one go. But it is sure that by late next week we will know all the nominees,” said a senior party leader confided.

Lobbying within the party is on. Sources said that while most sitting MPs are likely to be given tickets, doubts have cropped up around two with “dim chances” of victory.

Devidhan Besra, representing Rajmahal in Santhal Pargana, is no longer seen as a winner, according to an internal survey of the BJP. The party is looking at Som Marandi in case Besra is finally dumped.

Former IPS Arun Oraon is yet to join the party but the party has not ruled out the option of fielding him from Lohardaga now represented by Sudarshan Bhagat.

In Ranchi, Kurmi stalwart Ramtahal Choudhary’s chances of getting a ticket has brightened, now that cricket boss Amitabh Chaudhary has joined the JVM. Amitabh had been hobnobbing with the BJP for a chance to contest from the state capital.

The Jamshedpur seat, which the BJP lost miserably to JVM’s Ajoy Kumar in a by-election, still haunts the party. Then state BJP president Dineshnanda Goswami was pitted against the former IPS, a popular figure among steel city residents, only to be routed.

This time, the BJP is looking for a strong candidate. Former energy secretary Vimal Kirti Singh is trying to make a case for himself in Dhanbad and Jamshedpur is his second option. But he is yet to join, keeping his options open with the Congress, too.

“Such people want a seat of their choice. They want everything readymade. They want the ground prepared for them so that they come, hit a score and go. It doesn’t work that way,” said a senior leader, making it quite apparent that the party’s rank and file was upset that retired bureaucrats were being given preference.

Former DGP V.D. Ram is looking to Palamau. Arun Oraon is lobbying for Lohardaga. Vimal Kirti Singh has also made his choice known. Former IAS Mukhtiar Singh, who joined the BJP last month, has also voiced electoral ambitions. This time, he may even settle for an Assembly seat.

But for Dumka, the BJP hasn’t been able to zero in on anyone who could put up a decent challenge to JMM chief Shibu Soren who has ruled over the constituency as his fiefdom throughout his political career, except in 1984, 1998 and 1999. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, BJP retained two of three seats in Santhal Pargana. This time, the options for the party are Sunil Soren and Louis Marandi.

The BJP is counting on a Narendra Modi wave, hoping it will peak in Dumka on March 24 when the party’s prime ministerial nominee is scheduled to hold a rally there.

“Modi’s rally will change the poll arithmetic in Santhal Pargana. We are in a comfortable position in Santhal Pargana. Dumka will be ours,” claimed state BJP spokesperson Pradeep Sinha.

But a bitter dispute among top ranking leaders may play spoilsport. For instance, senior leader Arjun Munda, who controls affairs of the party in the state through his trusted aide, state president Ravindra Rai, is learnt to be pushing for Nishikant Dubey’s exit from Godda. Dubey won against Furkan Ansari of the Congress last time.