The Telegraph
Saturday , April 19 , 2014
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Munda leads BJP fight for clean sweep in last round
- Reputation of two regional parties at stake as Soren & Marandi clash in Dumka constituency

Ranchi, April 18: The third and final round of polling in Jharkhand will put to the test mettle of four big shots who rule the roost in the state’s political arena.

Chief minister Hemant Soren and his predecessors — father and JMM patriarch Shibu Soren, BJP heavyweight Arjun Munda and JMM chief Babulal Marandi — are pulling out all the stops to retain their respective strongholds.

Also, results of the April 24 polling — when Dumka, Rajmahal, Godda and Dhanbad go to polls — may give a new twist to tribal politics in Jharkhand.

While Sorens and Marandi have been touring Dumka extensively for the past few weeks, Munda will start his campaigns in the constituency afresh tomorrow.

Enthused by voters’ response in the first two rounds of elections, the BJP is now looking for a clean sweep in the last round. And if it really happens, both JVM and JMM will have a tough time ahead, especially in the state politics .

“We may win all the 10 seats where elections have already been held. However, a critical scrutiny suggests that our victory is certain in at least eight constituencies. In the third round, we are in a comfortable position in Dhanbad, Godda and Rajmahal. Things will improve in Dumka as well over the next few days. The NaMo wave is everywhere and people of Dumka too are eager to see Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister,” Munda told The Telegraph.

The BJP has fielded Sunil Soren in Dumka, which is headed towards a battle mainly between two heavyweights the JMM supremo and the JVM chief.

However, Munda faces the main challenge in Rajmahal, where party’s Hemlal Murmu is pitted against JMM’s Vijay Hansda.

A former JMM leader, Murmu was recently inducted into the BJP fold and given the party ticket from the Lok Sabha constituency at Munda’s behest. Modi has already held rallies in Godda and Dhanbad, but not in Rajmahal. As of now, the BJP is mainly banking on the former chief minister’s charm and his managerial skills to pull voters in Rajmahal.

The JMM, on the other hand, admitted that Dumka is going to be crucial.

“The party is facing rough weathers in Dumka, despite hectic campaigns by the chief minister. Babulal Marandi is putting in all his might, besides we cannot take the NaMo factor lightly. If Guruji loses, there will be tremors within the party fold,” said JMM central committee member Mithilesh Thakur.

The JMM is supporting the Congress candidates in Dhanbad and Godda, but is not quite hopeful of a positive outcome.

In fact, according to Thakur, the UPA is pinning hopes only on Giridih and Hazaribagh, where polling was held yesterday.

“The Congress’s Saurabh Narain Singh has greatly been benefited from division of the BJP vote bank in Hazaribagh constituency. In Giridih, JMM candidate Jagannath Mahto has bagged considerable support in such pockets where people earlier did not cast their votes,” Thakur claimed.

JVM principal general secretary Pradip Yadav, who is contesting the Godda Lok Sabha seat, claimed his party candidates were in comfortable positions in all the four constituencies that would vote in the third round.

However, he clarified that his party was more interested in the next Assembly polls.

“We are a regional party and our domain of politics is confined to Jharkhand. Results of the Lok Sabha polls will, however, will help us draw better strategies for the Vidhan Sabha polls,” he added.