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Hot seat poser for all parties

Ranchi, March 18: Silence is making the loudest noise in the prestigious Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat, as major political parties continue to fight shy of declaring rivals “fit” to fight JVM strongman and sitting MP Ajoy Kumar.

The last date for filing nominations is March 26. Jamshedpur will go to poll on April 17 for which notification will be issued tomorrow by the returning officer-cum-district election officer.

But while the BJP is in a fix after its preferred choice for the constituency, Arjun Munda, turned down the party’s offer to contest the seat, the JMM, faced with internal strife, is buying more time to disclose its cards.

Both parties have announced their big-ticket nominees for seats except Jamshedpur.

While BJP named the candidates for 13 out of total 14 seats in the state, JMM has declared nominees for three out of the four seats the party will contest according to its pre-poll pact with ally Congress.

On March 15, former Tata Steel executive Niroop Mahanty joined the JMM, triggering speculations that he might be the party’s upmarket bet against JVM’s Kumar.

But the faction-hit district unit made it clear that it wanted a local and old member for the seat, not a “newcomer”, even before the JMM leadership could announce a name.

“We are disturbed. It would be better if an old loyalist gets the ticket,” senior JMM leader Mohan Karmakar from Jamshedpur told The Telegraph.

JMM’s East Singhbhum unit chief Ramesh Hansdah, who has been eyeing the seat, also echoed a similar opinion.

Sources said the problem for the JMM for the Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat started after Sabita, the widow of senior JMM leader late Sudhir Mahto, turned down the party’s offer to contest the seat.

Sabita was seen as a suitable candidate for the seat given the sympathy angle after the death of her husband and the big support base of the Mahto population.

But Sabita begged off, saying she had a mother’s responsibility. Also, the Rajya Sabha fiasco may still rankle.

The BJP seems to be in a similar fix. It is unable to find a suitable person to represent the prestigious seat, also a traditional party stronghold. “Munda (former chief minister and Jamshedpur MP) would have been a strong candidate against Kumar. Others in the line-up do not have the same charisma,” said a state working committee member.

In 2009, Munda won the seat with record votes, but JVM’s Kumar, making his political debut by banking on his supercop image, trounced BJP nominee Dineshanand Goswami in the 2011 bypoll.

Some party leaders did pitch for former IAS Vimal Kirti Singh and IPS Arun Oraon. But, Jamshedpur would be an unknown turf for them.

State BJP leaders are not ready to comment. “Central leadership is likely to take a decision tomorrow,” Munda told The Telegraph.


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