The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP rivals race for Poreahat consensus

Ranchi, Jan. 18: With the BJP having named its nominee for the Poreahat Assembly byelection, top leaders of the Opposition parties — the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress, the CPI and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha — are meeting in Ranchi on January 28 to decide on a consensus candidate “to take on the communal forces”.

The bypoll to the Poreahat seat, that fell vacant after sitting BJP MLA Pradeep Yadav was elected to the Lok Sabha recently, is slated for February 26.

The RJD leader in the Jharkhand Assembly, Girinath Singh, today told The Telegraph that the party nominee for last month’s Godda Lok Sabha bypoll, of which Poreahat is a part, had secured 13,000 votes from this Assembly segment alone, thereby strengthening the party’s claim to the seat. “We are naturally interested to contest from Poreahat given our recent performance,” Singh stressed.

He, however, added that in the larger interest of unity among the Opposition, the RJD was willing to cooperate with other parties to field a consensus candidate to take on communal forces.

The RJD leader said a three-member committee of Manohar Yadav, Khuda Ram and Naushad Alam was being sent to Poreahat to take stock of the ground realities and explore the prospects of a common Opposition candidate. He added that the committee had also been directed to assess the prospects in the event the RJD puts up its own candidate.

Singh said the committee has been asked to submit its findings within a week so that the report could be discussed in the Opposition meet. Preliminary discussions, Singh said, have already been held with the JMM leader of the Opposition, Stephen Marandi, who has conveyed his party’s stand on putting up a common candidate for the February 26 byelection.

According to Singh, following the preliminary talks with the JMM, which he described as encouraging, the January 28 meet had been planned to explore the possibilities of putting up a consensus candidate.

The RJD leader emphasised that with the single agenda of crushing communal forces in Jharkhand, his party would not hesitate to sacrifice its claim to the Poreahat seat and would cooperate with other parties to put up a joint candidate.

The JMM has already declared that it will field its own candidate from Poreahat and has called upon both the Congress and the RJD to support it “to preserve Opposition unity”. Party spokesperson Shailendra Bhattacharya said the seat has all along been represented by the JMM, first by its former vice-president Suraj Mandal and then by its former MLA Prashant Mandal.

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