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Karia on shaky ground, Koda falls back on wife

Ranchi, April 7: Political careers of two sitting MPs, BJP veteran Karia Munda and former chief minister Madhu Koda, are at stake this election.

Munda is on slippery ground, trying hard to retain Khunti, while Koda has fielded wife Geeta Koda from Singhbhum, hoping her victory will salvage his “tainted” reputation and keep his political aspirations alive.

Khunti has sent Munda to Parliament in 1977, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2009. But this time, it is not going to be a cakewalk for the sitting MP with Kali Charan Munda of the Congress, Niel Tirkey of Ajsu Party and Jharkhand Party’s Anosh Ekka trying hard to unseat the BJP strongman.

The former deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha is aware of his depleting support base, which many blame on the anti-incumbency factor. He has been campaigning extensively in far-flung areas of the constituency with the hope of a victory.

State BJP general secretary Ganesh Mishra, however, tried to sound confident.

“In 2009, he defeated Tirkey, then with the Congress, despite hectic campaigns by party president Sonia Gandhi. This time, Tirkey will face challenge from bête noire Ekka, too. Both are from the same community and will eat into each other’s support base. Besides, the Congress candidate will further divide anti-BJP votes, which will ultimately benefit Munda,” he argued.

Even if Mishra’s claim is taken into account, sources claimed that the BJP leader was facing a bigger challenge — Naxalites.

Party insiders said dominant rebel outfits, like CPI(Maoist) and PLFI, could turn the tide in anyone’s favour, provided they were reasonably “compensated”. “Buy” their help, and they would ensure poll boycott in the rivals’ domains, they added.

Mishra agreed. “Dealing with rebel-sponsored poll boycotts is going to be a tough challenge for us.”

“Munda’s political career may take a wrong turn under such circumstances. A defeat in the hands of tainted Ekka or Tirkey will spell doom for dedicated BJP workers too,” said one of his close aides.

In Singhbhum, sitting MP Koda is fighting the ghosts of his past. Not sure of a victory, he fielded wife Geeta to fend off the Opposition’s graft barbs. Some feel it was a masterstroke.

In 2009, he defeated Congress veteran Bagun Sumbrai, but soon got entangled in legal battles after his name figured in several scams.

He spent nearly three and a half years behind bars before coming out on bail last year. However, his jail stint dented his support base to a considerable extent.

A shrewd politician, Koda invoked woman power, seeking to garner sympathy votes to settle scores with “friends-turned-foes”.

Geeta is fighting against Chitrasen Sinku of the Congress, Laxman Gilua of the BJP and Krishna Gagarai of the JVM.

After her initial attempt to join hands with the Congress failed, she turned to the Ho community, which is apparently upset with the “treatment” meted out to Kodas.

“I am receiving a positive response everywhere. We cannot be taken for granted only because we are poor. People will teach them an appropriate lesson on April 17,” Geeta told The Telegraph while campaigning in Seraikela recently.