The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Star wars ahead of final battle

- Parties keen to rope in biggies to draw voters

Jamshedpur, March 29: As poll campaign is slowly but steadily reaching fever pitch, big parties are lining up their star campaigners to jazz up otherwise mundane rallies and meetings.

While the BJP is seeking the presence of glamorous Hema Malini and Smriti Irani, apart from its prime ministerial pick Narendra Modi, to rake in votes, the UPA’s ally JMM has riveted its attention on Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and its vice president Rahul Gandhi to mobilise support.

The JVM, on the other hand, is relying on the popularity of party president Babulal Marandi.

Jamshedpur, comprising six Assembly segments — Bahragora, Jugsalai, Potka, Ghatshila and Jamshedpur East and Jamshedpur West — will go to the polls on April 17.

The parties have already sent lists of star campaigners for election rallies to their state units for a suitable date.

“The state unit prepares a list of star campaigners and asks district units to submit their request. Narendra Modi is expected to campaign in Jamshedpur on April 10 or 11. We have also included Hema Malini, Smriti Irani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu in our wish list,” said BJP spokesperson Anil Modi, adding they would suggest a few more names in the coming days.

He added Modi was supposed to address a rally here in support of party nominee Bidyut Baran Mahto on April 27 but things did not materialise. Now, the BJP is looking forward to his presence in its bid to add a much-needed zing to its election campaign.

The JMM, a regional party, is particularly banking on national leaders of the UPA as well as party patriarch Shibu Soren to help its candidate and political greenhorn Niroop Mahanty.

“We are quite sure that either Soniaji or Rahulji will hold a rally here. We are also keen to bring in Farooq Abdullah. The list of names has been sent to Ranchi,” said district JMM president Ramesh Hansda.

While Rahul has never visited East Singhbhum, Sonia had been to Ghatshila to seek votes for Congress candidate Pradip Balmuchu during the 2009 Assembly elections. Abdulla, on the other hand, had been to Jamshedpur for non-political purposes.

The JVM, however, does not have many glamorous faces to campaign for its nominee and is reposing faith entirely on good work done by sitting MP Ajoy Kumar. Thus, like the 2011 Lok Sabha by-election, party chief Marandi is expected to stay rooted here to make forays in rural segments of this coveted constituency.

“Marandi will camp here for our candidate,” said JVM media in-charge C.H. Ram Murty.