The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebels ready to play party-pooper

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Jan. 27: Rebels in both the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Congress threaten to spoil the party.

Several Congress and JMM heavyweights filed their nomination on Thursday as Independent candidates after being denied tickets.

Congress veteran, four- time legislator and former chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and Castes, Bandi Oraon and the present Gumla district congress president, Deep Narayan Oraon, filed their nomination for Sisai and Gumla reserved seats.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha too was rattled by rebels after the district presidents of both East and West Singhbhum revolted and filed their nomination in defiance of the party.

While East Singhbhum president Ramdas Soren handed over his resignation yesterday itself to JMM MP Sunil Mahto, party's West Singhbhum president Dipak Birua is yet to resign, though he filed his nomination to the Chaibasa constituency.

While Soren wanted to contest from Ghatsila, JMM decided not to field candidates from either Ghatsila or Chaibasa because both the constituencies had sitting Congress legislators.

Former JMM legislator from Gumla Bernard Minj, who had earlier declared his intention to retire from active politics, also sprang a surprise by filing his nomination for the Gumla seat.

A bitter Minj declared, 'I was stabbed in the back. The JMM, which had earlier promised me a ticket, went back on its promise at the last moment by fielding Bhushan Tirkey from the Gumla seat.'

Following the last-minute development, Minj confessed that he had initially planned to 'retire from politics altogether'.

'However, I was forced to give it a fresh thought as people of the constituency wanted that I contest from Gumla seat,' he said.

In Singhbhum, JMM put up a brave face and claimed that the rebels would not succeed in making any dent.

JMM MP Sunil Mahto said he had forwarded Ramdas Soren's resignation to the party chief and hoped that Dipak Birua too would resign soon.

'If he does not resign on his own, we will have to take action,' he reasoned.

But the nervousness was betrayed by the shrill cry for action coming from the Congress ranks.

An irate Congress candidate from Ghatsila, Pradeep Balmuchu, demanded that the JMM immediately expel the rebels.

Balmuchu, who also happens to be a state vice-president of the party, said: 'The Congress has expelled its rebels and since JMM is our ally we want that it should also do the same so that it sends a message to the other party workers.'

JMM insiders admitted that the tough stand taken by senior leaders could have a negative impact on the prospects of the UPA candidates in the Singhbum region.

'With the two district chiefs of the party, who had considerable influence among the workers, deciding to sever their ties with the party, it is a million dollar question whether the party workers will work for the victory of UPA candidates or turn into Trojan horses,' said a grim JMM leader.

Although the JMM had won just one of the 14 seats in the last Assembly election, the party's vote share had registered a significant rise in the general election for the Lok Sabha held in April last year.

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