The Telegraph
Monday , March 24 , 2014
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How Ajsu went bananas

Ranchi, March 23: Ajsu hopeful from Lohardaga seat Shishir Toppo could not file his nomination papers yesterday, the last day for this essential formality, in the “absence” of the party symbol, the banana, with his own party MLA “ditching” him.

In another yesterday, Ajsu’s Palamau nominee Amit Ranjan backed out at the last minute, saying he couldn’t fight against his father Ram Badan Ram, in the fray on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Taken together, these two incidents have now effectively reduced the party’s “official nominees” for the Lok Sabha elections to only six.

The party announced it would field eight candidates in the state. Now, its lack of preparedness stands exposed.

According to sources, Toppo had completed all necessary preparations to go to Gumla to file his nomination papers yesterday. But, the party symbol and Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto’s letter, declaring Toppo as the official party candidate, did not arrive in time.

According to rules, a candidate needs to carry the party symbol and the party chief’s letter at the time of filing nomination. But, Ajsu MLA Kamal Kishore Bhagat from Lohardaga, who was to hand Toppo the party symbol and the letter, stayed traceless.

Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto had reportedly even kept a chopper ready so that Toppo could file his papers before the 3pm deadline, but Bhagat’s cellphone was apparently switched off. Consequently, Toppo missed the deadline.

“I don’t know what forced Bhagat to do this at the eleventh hour. It was he who had recommended my name for the ticket and promised me all possible help. I was the lone Christian candidate and my win was certain,” Toppo, eyeing the ST reserved seat, rued.

Ajsu chief Sudesh, who is in the fray for Ranchi, could not be contacted. Ajsu spokesperson Deo Sharan Bhagat downplayed the issue. “He (Bhagat) had gone to Chatra where our candidate Nagmani filed his nomination yesterday. There is no question of back-stabbing,” he said, but could not explain why Toppo couldn’t get the symbol and the letter.

In the Palamau drama, Ajsu candidate Ranjan withdrew himself from the fray in the last moment, saying he did not want to contest against his father and Samajwadi Party nominee Ram Badan Ram.

Ram filed his nomination papers yesterday.

“Amit had requested for the ticket to the Palamau parliamentary seat. Considering his popularity among the common masses and hard work he had put in to strengthen the organisation, our parliamentary board accepted his request,” said the Ajsu spokesman.

What he did not say is his party erred in not keeping any back-up plan ready.

The party is not taking any action against Bhagat or Ranjan now to avoid humiliation.

Other contenders will now benefit in Lohardaga and Palamau from Ajsu’s “mistakes”.

Rameshwar Oraon (Congress), Sudarshan Bhagat (BJP) and Chamra Linda (TMC) are among the prominent faces in Lohardaga.

In Palamau, former DGP V.D. Ram (BJP), sitting MP Kameshwar Baitha (TMC), Ghuran Ram (JVM) and Manoj Kumar (RJD) will try to bag the Ajsu votes.