The Telegraph
Sunday , January 19 , 2014
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BJP eyes pre-poll ties with Ajsu, weighs seat stakes

- Hunt on for trustworthy allies in Jharkhand to keep Cong-JMM force at bay

Ranchi, Jan. 18: The BJP is carefully exploring possibilities of a pre-poll alliance with its old friend Ajsu party in Jharkhand, after being snubbed by the JVM, apparently to make up for losses caused by the divorce with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in Bihar.

Ajsu supremo Sudesh Mahto is learnt to have had several rounds of parleys with senior BJP leaders in Ranchi and Delhi, and insiders claimed a positive result would emerge soon.

Sources said the BJP national executive body meeting in Delhi last evening stressed on the need for hunting for trustworthy and potential alliance partners, apart from focusing on efficient poll management and integrated nationwide campaigns.

Considering the BJP’s long association with Sudesh Mahto’s party in Jharkhand and his personal rapport with BJP national president Rajnath Singh, the two parties may again come together to put up a joint fight against the Congress-JMM group in the coming general elections.

For records, the Ajsu had extended support to the BJP-led government in Jharkhand four times in the past — 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2010. Besides, it was part of the JMM-led government, which was supported by the BJP, in 2009.

Nonetheless, the two parties always joined hands only after considering post-election scenarios.

This is the first time when the BJP is looking for a pre-poll understanding.

“The real problem is that the Ajsu is eyeing seats, which are either held by the BJP or the party lost them by narrow margins in 2009. For example, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Giridih are some of the important seats that the BJP cannot afford to cede to its alliance partners,” said a senior BJP leader.

Asked if his party was interested in forging a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, Mahto neither confirmed nor rejected the possibilities.

“It is too early to talk about these things. As of now, we are preparing to contest all the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats in Jharkhand. We never had pre-poll alliances with anyone in the past, but nothing remains static in politics,” he told The Telegraph.

Mahto’s former colleague and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Arjun Munda said the BJP would leave no stone unturned to bag all the parliamentary seats in Jharkhand.

However, any decision on alliances — before or after the elections — would be taken by the party high command.

“We are preparing to contest all the seats. The BJP has won 12-13 out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats on its own in Jharkhand in the past. The rest is for the party high command to decide,” he added.

Run for status

In Bokaro, Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto led the party’s “Run For Jharkhand” in support of special status for the state and called upon youths to come forward to bring about a positive change in society.

“Jharkhand has not got its dues. We want youths to come forward to fight for the state. They have the energy and enthusiasm to sustain a long movement,” he said.

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