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JMM fights odds in own backyard

- Hemant spearheads hectic campaigns in Dumka, Rajmahal constituencies

Ranchi, April 20: For the JMM and its leaders, all roads lead to Dumka and Rajmahal in Santhal Pargana, where the party is fighting against odds to keep its citadel intact.

Chief minister Hemant Soren is leading the pack of leaders in Dumka, campaigning for his father, the JMM patriarch and seven-time MP Shibu Soren, who is pitted against JVM supremo Babulal Marandi.

In neighbouring Rajmahal constituency, new entrant JMM’s Vijay Hansda is also facing a tough challenge from turncoat Hemlal Murmu, who is in the fray with a BJP ticket.

“We are focusing in Santhal Pargana. We are very well positioned here and are confident of winning. The entire JMM machinery is extremely active in the region,” JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya told The Telegraph over phone from Dumka.

Guruji’s chief minister son, to whom the JMM patriarch has apparently passed on the party’s reins, is canvassing extensively in the area, pulling out all the stops to save the JMM bastion.

Hemant addressed meetings and rallies in areas like Pathardah (Sarath), Fatehpur (Jamatra), Narayanpur (Jamtara), Raneshwar (Dumka), Godda, Dhaka (Shikaripara) and Jama (Dumka) yesterday, seeking votes for his father who is nearing 70.

Similarly, the chief minister campaigned in Maheshpur (Pakur), Pakuria and Littipara (Pakur), Taljhari (Sahebganj), among others, today.

Also, Hemant is rooting for green horse Vijay Hansda, in his early 30s, who was picked up and fielded by Hemant himself.

Vijay, son of former Congress MP Thomas Hansda and former Youth Congress president of Sahebganj district, joined the JMM fold just before the poll dates were announced.

It was Vijay’s induction into the party that prompted Soren’s former trusted lieutenant Hemlal Murmu to sever ties with his old party and join the BJP.

Murmu is now posing serious threat to the JMM’s prospect in Rajmahal.

Another father-son drama is brewing in Santhal Pargana. An upset Littipara MLA, Simon Marandi, is not campaigning either for Gur uji or Vijay, making things more difficult for the JMM.

Simon, who had represented Rajmahal parliamentary seat in the past, wanted the JMM ticket for his son Dinesh William from the Rajmahal constituency.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Simon said he had called a meeting with his supporters tomorrow to decide his future course of action.

“I am not going to leave the party at this juncture. But keeping supporters in confidence is also necessary in politics. Tomorrow, we will decide if we support Vijay or remain neutral,” he added.

In a separate development, the JMM today wrote a letter to the chief election commissioner, the chief electoral officer of Jharkhand and the returning officer of Dumka, alleging that JVM candidate Babulal Marandi had cited content from the Holy Bible yesterday, a day before Easter Sunday, to impress Christian minority voters.

“This is highly objectionable and totally against the Election Commission’s model code of conduct. They are trying to exploit religious sentiments of Christian community. I have raised my serious concern over the issue,” JMM general secretary Bhattacharya said.

l Dumka, Rajmahal vote on April 24