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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parties hit battle mode

Dumka, May 5: Political parties have sounded the poll bugle with the Centre launching the process to dissolve the state Assembly that was kept under suspended animation ever since Presidentís Rule was imposed on January 18.

In Santhal Pargana, the poll fever has gripped all political parties that are gearing up to woo the voters of 18 Assembly seats. Parties like BJP, Congress and JVM are trying to secure maximum seats in the region, which is considered a JMM bastion.

JMM is believed to be desperately looking forward to retain its political might here. However, tainted party MLAs may lessen the chance of a clean sweep this time. The cash for vote scam may prove costly for the party. Former state minister Nalin Soren and Sita Soren, representing Shikaripara and Jama, respectively, have been evading arrest, while senior leader and Littipara (Pakur) MLA Simon Marandi has also been under the CBI scanner in connection with the cash for vote scam.

BJP, on the other hand, is struggling to improve its image. Intra-party rivalry coupled with leadership crisis in the region may mar the partyís possibility. New state president Ravindra Rai is leaving no stone unturned to ensure maximum seats. However, experts say that the 28-month alliance with JMM may have adverse effect on the partyís poll prospects as JMM was given a free hand in the region during this period.

The JVM, however, is looking forward to take advantage of the weaknesses of BJP and JMM.

Congress has also made a start. Vice-president Rahul Gandhi will come down to Dumka to attend a workersí conference on May 19.