The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 18 , 2014
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Marandi eyes all 14 LS seats to boost third front

- JVM open to ties with like-minded parties, looks to play bigger role in national politics

Ranchi, Feb. 17: JVM is preparing to contest all 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, hoping to consolidate its position in state politics and play a bigger role at the national level.

With two MPs — from Jamshedpur and Koderma — and 11 MLAs, the JVM is eyeing anti-Congress and anti-BJP votes and is open to any kind of pre-poll and post-poll alliances with “like-minded” parties.

“My prime concern is to check division of anti-Congress and anti-BJP votes. We may enter into certain pre-poll and post-poll understandings with some parties to put up a united fight. I am not opposed to the idea of a third front floated by the Left and other secular parties either,” JVM chief Babulal Marandi told The Telegraph.

The JVM supremo added that he had decided to not contest the coming general elections. “It is sufficient to clarify that I am not eyeing on an important portfolio at the Centre,” he added.

However, he admitted that all these calculations would work out only if the party and its allies managed to bag enough seats in Jharkhand. “It needs to be seen how many seats these parties win in Jharkhand. We are also ready for friendly fights (with allies) if they help keep the two national parties at bay,” he added.

So far, the JVM has been able to strike a deal with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), but the two parties are yet to work out a seat-sharing formula in Jharkhand and Bihar.

Marandi has been quite keen to join hands with the Ajsu, which is the “most viable” option in the state. However, Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto, who is considered to be close to top BJP leaders, is holding back his cards.

Moreover, the JVM chief, who turned down BJP’s invitation for an alliance, claimed to have had positive talks with BJD’s Navin Patnaik in Odisha, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and certain tribal leaders in Assam.

Also, efforts are on to forge ties with the new entrant, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, though it doesn’t have any stake in Jharkhand politics.

The former chief minister said several regional parties had emerged across the country over the years, but they couldn’t influence national politics to the desired extent.

“Common people are now fed up with both Congress and BJP. It is high time for all regional forces to realise each other’s potential and unite,” Marandi said.

While the party is continuing its efforts to form a strong group of like-minded forces, it is keeping its doors open for all eventualities. It is among the few that kicked off preparations for the general elections well in advance.

“We were the first to declare our election manifesto and appoint election in-charges for different constituencies. We have also constituted our booth committees and held several rounds of party workers’ and public meetings across the state,” the former chief minister said.

The JVM has launched an extensive drive — Dhan Sangrah and Jan Sangrah — to raise funds across the state, in a move that many political leaders believe is as effective, if not more, as public rallies to mobilise supporters.

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