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Parties bank on smear campaign

- BJP, JVM & JMM trade invectives to swing loyalties in last minute

Democracy and derision have always been strange bedfellows in Jharkhand. And an elite Jamshedpur is no exception.

As polling day nears for the coveted Lok Sabha constituency, netas and their yes-men are letting out a stream of invectives against political rivals with gay abandon. On the one hand, they are exercising lungpower to the hilt to boost prospects of their respective party candidates; on the other hand, they are spewing sarcasm against adversaries in the fray to sway loyalties.

Leading the pack of mud-slinging antagonists is BJP’s Raghubar Das, the party’s sitting MLA from Jamshedpur East — one of two urban Assembly segments under the parliamentary hot seat — and a former deputy chief minister.

Referring to doctor-turned-IPS officer-turned JVM sitting Lok Sabha member Ajoy Kumar, who originally hails from Bangalore, Das said a “tourist MP” and “chirkut (small fry)” couldn’t tip scales against his party, which is riding high on the NaMo wave this election.

Aakhir unhe Modiji se milne ka itna aatur kyun hain? Yadi unhe BJP mein aana hain toh unhe seedhi-seedhi baat karni chahiye (Why is Ajoy Kumar so keen on meeting Narendra Modi? If he wishes to join the BJP, he should ask the party directly),” Das said at a news conference in the city last week.

The BJP veteran was referring to the JVM MP’s insistence on meeting the Gujarat chief minister and prime ministerial candidate during the latter’s visit to the city on April 10. Kumar had said he wanted to ask Modi why the BJP had fielded a “corrupt” candidate such as Bidyut Baran Mahto whose name figured in a 2010 graft case. Denied audience with the BJP poster boy, the sitting MP had launched a dharna with his supporters close to Modi’s Gopal Maidan venue.

Not one to profess Gandhigiri to buffer BJP barbs, JVM’s central committee general secretary Abhay Singh shot back at Das with another news meet. “Yadi unko inse itna hi prem hain toh hum inko Jamshedpur purvi seat se khada kar denge. Unhe apni haisiyat pata lag jayega (If Raghubar Das is so much in love with Ajoy Kumar that he can’t stop referring to the MP, than we shall field Kumar from Jamshedpur East in the next Assembly elections. Das will know his own worth),” Singh said.

Campaigning in Jugsalai on April 11, Kumar quipped: “Bidyut ka connection kaat do (Defeat BJP candidate Bidyut Baran Mahto).”

Chief minister Hemant Soren was not far behind. Targeting his predecessor Arjun Munda and Bidyut at a Birsanagar programme in the recent past, he had said: “Humne inhe khila pilakar pattha banaya aur yeh ab doosron ka khet joth rahen hain (The JMM fed then and made them what they are. Now, they are ploughing other’s farms).” Both Munda and Mahto are JMM defectors.