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Sorens on guard at bastion

Ranchi, May 15: Three chief ministers — the incumbent and two of his predecessors — reached Dumka on the eve of the Lok Sabha election results that will largely decide the future of Jharkhand’s two primary regional parties in the tribal-dominated Santhal Pargana region.

Dumka, arguably the most coveted seat in Jharkhand where two former chief ministers, Shibu Soren and Babulal Marandi, are awaiting the people’s verdict, will hold centre stage in all discussions when counting begins tomorrow.

Chief minister Hemant Soren and his father Soren Senior arrived in the second capital of the state on Ranchi-Hatia Inter-city Express this morning, while JVM supremo Marandi reached Dumka this evening.

The father-son duo spent the entire day with trusted lieutenants at their Khejuria residence on Airport Road, local sources said.

Apart from Marandi, BJP’s Sunil Soren, a local resident, is also in the fray against Guruji.

JMM core committee secretary Vinod Kumar Pandey said the party was all set to win Dumka, along with Giridih and Rajmahal. “Guruji is going to win again. We are also confident about at least two other seats,” he told The Telegraph.

On the other hand, the JVM chief, who held a meeting with party workers to finalise tomorrow’s preparations, also expressed confidence about his win. “My victory is certain,” Marandi told a section of the media in Dumka.

So far, Soren Senior has represented the seat in Parliament seven times — 1980, 1989, 1991, 1996, 2002 (by-election), 2004 and 2009. This time, the party is hopeful of winning again. In 1991 and 1996, the JMM chief had trounced Marandi, who was with the BJP then. A BJP candidate, Marandi settled scores by defeating Soren Senior in 1998 and Guruji’s better half Rupi Soren in 1999.

In 2009, Marandi contested from Koderma constituency, but Sunil put up a tough fight against the JMM patriarch in Dumka. While Soren Senior polled 2,08,518 votes, Sunil was behind by a margin of over 18,000 votes.

To ensure everything stays in order on R-Day, deputy commissioner Harsh Mangla and election commission observer Nepal Singh Ravi inspected the counting centre at Government Polytechnic on the outskirts of Dumka town today.

Sources said 14 tables had been assigned to each of six Assembly segments of Shikaripara, Nala, Jamtara, Dumka, Jama and Sarath for counting.


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