The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aide trouble hits JMM
- Soren secy 'steals' symbol, files papers

Bokaro, Feb. 8: Private secretaries and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren, it would appear, do not go together. Soren continues to face a trial in court for the alleged murder of his former private secretary, Shashi Nath Jha, who had disappeared mysteriously from New Delhi.

Now his present private secretary Pashupati Nath Pandey has allegedly 'stolen' a party symbol and filed his nomination as the official JMM candidate for the Bokaro Assembly seat.

Soren had apparently conceded the seat to the Congress.

He says as much in a formal communication addressed to the deputy commissioner of Bokaro Kumar Arun. The JMM chief has requested that the nomination of Pandey be rejected as the seat has not been allotted to him.

The Bokaro seat has been left for the Congress, Soren wrote and hence there was no question of an official JMM candidate in Bokaro. The trouble is the Returning Officer (RO) in this case the subdivisional officer of Chas, Raj Mohan Tewari, has already declared Pandey to be the official JMM candidate.

'His nomination papers were in order and the official symbol had been allotted to him ' therefore there was no cause to reject his nomination,' he claimed and added that in case the JMM chief had second thoughts, his missive should have reached him, the RO by 3 pm on February 5.

In the event, the letter finally reached him at 11 am on February 7, by when he claims to have released the list of candidates.

A peeved Tewari said on Tuesday, 'The letter should have been addressed to me and sent directly.'

The 'ticket' or the party symbol, he explained, is allotted by political parties vide formal, official letters signed by the authorised person, in this case the JMM president. Since he had apparently signed the letter declaring Pandey to be the official candidate, which was submitted, with the nomination papers, where is the question of 'stealing' the symbol', asked the Pandey camp.

The JMM camp, however, claimed that it was routine to sign such letters and keep dummy candidates ready. Pandey, they alleged, had misused his position and took away the authorisation and filed it without permission from Soren.

The JMM chief put up a brave front and laughed off the incident while telling The Telegraph, 'Pandey ghar ka bachha hai aur ticket lekar chala gaya; maan jayega, jayega kahan (Pandey is a child of our family and has run away with the ticket but he will withdraw ' where will he go after all).'

He hoped that the errant private secretary would withdraw from the fray tomorrow, Wednesday, which is the last day for withdrawals.

But the private secretary appeared in no mood to oblige. A defiant Pandey insisted that Soren had himself asked him to contest the election and allotted the symbol to him.

He alleged that Soren's sons were involved in the controversy. 'It is possible that some people within the party accepted money to oblige the Congress nominee,' he darkly hinted and pointed out that JMM and the Congress are already engaged in friendly bouts in Godda, Tundi and Deoghar.

'I have not stolen the symbol,' he stressed.

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