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Marandi-Nitish knot in split shadow

Ranchi, April 16: In this election brouhaha what has gone unnoticed is the brewing divorce, even before marriage, between Babulal Marandiís JVM and Nitish Kumarís JD(U).

The JVM is contesting all the 14 parliamentary seats in Jharkhand, while the JD(U) has fielded candidates in only five. Nevertheless, earlier the leaders of both parties had publicly said that a formidable JD(U)-JVM alliance was in the making against the UPA and the NDA.

Both the Bihar chief minister and Jharkhandís former chief minister are known votaries of the Third Front, a conglomerate of 11 political parties, including the Left ones.

However, in Jharkhand, the JD(U) chose over the CPI for a poll pact. In December last year, Marandi first met Nitish officially in Delhi to discuss tie-up templates. Sources in the JVM have revealed that further negotiations were held in January and March.

But, the talks failed to materialise because Marandi is learnt to have placed certain demands, which are not acceptable to the JD(U) boss. The JVM chief apparently suggested a quid pro quo. He wanted Nitish to support all JVM candidates in Jharkhand and promised to do the same for JD(U) nominees in Bihar. Marandi, strictly against division of secular votes, wanted Nitish to pull out candidates from all the 14 seats. In return, he had promised to enter into a seat-sharing deal with the JD(U) during the Assembly elections in Jharkhand later this year.

Not convinced, Nitish decided that it would be politically unwise for his party to stay away from the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand. ďAfter all, the position of the JD(U) is not worse than that of the RJD (in Jharkhand). Even the Congress has offered one seat to the RJD in Jharkhand,Ē a senior JD(U) leader said, quoting Nitish.

The JVM played defensive.

ďI canít comment over reasons behind the failure of talks. Of course, we wanted to stop division of secular votes in Jharkhand,Ē said the partyís MP hopeful from Godda Pradeep Yadav.

Notably, the JD(U) has fielded Rajvardhan Azad ó the son of former Bihar chief minister late Bhagwat Jha Azad ó from the same seat. Nitish campaigned for Azad in Godda on Wednesday.