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Sorens lose Palamau MP

- No surprises in JVM list, Marandi keeps options open; former Maoist seeks BJP ticket

Ranchi, March 6: Disgruntled JMM MP Kameshwar Baitha left the party today, announcing his intention to join the BJP on a day Hemant Soren tasted dissent from several other unhappy MLAs.

Baitha, a former Maoist and an MP from Palamau, met Arjun Munda today, fuelling speculation that his parting of ways with the JMM was final. With uncharacteristic candour, he told newsmen that he met the former chief minister for “political reasons” and to seek a BJP ticket from Palamau.

Munda, it is understood, hasn’t promised him anything yet. But Baitha made it clear to him that he was quitting JMM.

Baitha was scathing on the JMM party chief Shibu Soren and chief minister Hemant Soren. “Dono party ko kha gaye (The two have killed the party),” he said, referring to the father-son duo of Shibu and Hemant Soren.

“JMM ka position Lok Sabha mein kharab to hoga hi, Vidhan Sabha mein bhi kuchh thik nahi hoga (JMM will lose ground not only in the Lok Sabha but also in the Vidhan Sabha),” he said.

Baitha has been feeling left out for the past nine months, ever since the JMM agreed to part with 10 Lok Sabha seats, his Palamau among them, in a seat-sharing deal with ally Congress.

Now, although the Congress hasn’t finalised candidates for the seats, word is out that it may even pass on Palamau to the RJD after having sealed a deal with Lalu Prasad in neighbouring Bihar.

The sitting Palamau MP, therefore, was quick to realise that he would turn out to be the JMM’s sacrificial lamb. Today, he let off steam against the JMM, saying it had “sold” the Palamau seat as both Hemant and Shibu Soren were anti-dalit (Scheduled Caste).

Baitha won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from behind bars because of his charisma built on the persona of a hardcore Maoist shunning violence in favour of electoral politics.

He suited the JMM as a party candidate as it had no support base in Palamau. Now that the seat is no longer with it, the JMM feels it has no use for Baitha, whom they believe has lost popularity in the region.

“I am impressed by his politics,” he said today, referring to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Baitha harping a pro-BJP note is not surprising, given that he met Rajnath Singh when the BJP chief was in Palamau months ago.

But the JMM put up a brave front. “Such turncoats surface during elections. It is not a new thing. Dedicated workers who join the party for ideological reasons never desert the party for a ticket,” JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said.

Two party MLAs, Hemlal Murmu and Simon Marandi, are upset that the JMM has enrolled a Youth Congress leader from Rajmahal, and feel he will rob them of their aspirations in the Santhal Pargana region.

Like Baitha, Murmu met Munda too.


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