The Telegraph
Monday , April 21 , 2014
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Too many fingers in one pie

- NaMo wave notwithstanding, why the going may get tough for BJP in Dhanbad

Quite like its elite cousin Ranchi, which went to polls on April 17, the Dhanbad parliamentary constituency too is staring at a multi-cornered contest this Thursday.

A bevy of factors — from the conflicting NaMo and anti-incumbency waves to urban-rural and community-based support split — are being taken into serious account as candidates and their elections managers engage in hectic permutation and combination ahead of Vote Day.

The Dhanbad parliamentary constituency comprises six Assembly segments of Dhanbad, Jharia, Sindri, Nirsa, Bokaro and Chandankyari, from where a total 18.34 lakh people are expected to exercise their franchise.

A potential head-on clash between sitting BJP parliamentarian P.N. Singh and his mighty erstwhile Congress adversary Chandrasekhar ‘Dadai’ Dubey has already been abated by the veteran union leader’s decision to defect from the grand old party and challenge the incumbent with a Trinamul Congress (TMC) ticket.

There are several other elements working in favour of the 65-year-old seasoned BJP politician. One, Singh has been elected to the state Assembly from the prime Dhanbad seat not once, but thrice — in 1995, 2000 and 2005 — before he became an MP in 2009.

Two, the anti-incumbency ripples are being largely buffered by the giant NaMo wave, which has engulfed not just Jharkhand, but the entire nation. Three, the BJP traditionally enjoys the faith of the business class in urban Assembly segments of Dhanbad town and Jharia.

Four, the RSS is campaigning for Singh in rural pockets of Govindpur (Dhanbad segment) and Baliapur (Sindri segment). Five, the sitting MP is also a favourite in Bokaro, which is the biggest Assembly segment in the state with 4.61 lakh voters.

On the other hand, former MP (2004-09) Dadai Dubey has scuppered a golden chance to win back his crown. The septuagenarian’s derogatory remarks against chief minister Hemant Soren cost him his cabinet berth in the JMM-Congress alliance. An embarrassed Congress was further unwilling to allot him a Lok Sabha ticket, which triggered the defection.

His rift with the JMM-Congress notwithstanding, Dubey has a quite a fan following, courtesy his bold and outspoken image and track record of addressing popular issues such as displacement and water and power crises. He is also more accessible, as he never misses the smallest of functions organised by his supporters. The MLA already boasts minority loyalty of around 18 per cent and enjoys the support of 10 per cent Brahmin and Bhumihar voters. A champion of labour issues, around 40,000 coal workers are on his side too.

Four-time former Sindri MLA (1977, 1980, 1990 and 1995) Anand Mahto (72), who is in the fray as an MCC candidate, is a disciple of veteran Dhanbad politician A.K. Roy. He is likely to cash in on the frustration of 65 per cent rural voters in Sindri, Nirsa and Chandankyari. He is also banking on caste equation and may draw Kurmi-Mahto voters, besides the Bengali- and Khortha-speaking population. He has the support of the Left Front and JD(U).

JVM’s Bokaro MLA Samresh Singh is as outspoken as Dadai Dubey and has a strong base in his native Chandankyari. He is also looking at a share of vote pie in Bokaro (Chas) and Sindri (Baliapur). While Sindri MLA Phulchand Mahto is a party colleague, 74-year-old Samresh is the darling of the displaced in Bokaro.

Former state women’s commission chief and Ajsu nominee Hemlata S. Mohan (55) is banking on the fair sex and the urban educated voters of Dhanbad, Bokaro, Jharia and Maithon. She is enjoying the support of the Forward Bloc.

Last, but not the least, Congress man Ajay Dubey (52) has blessings of the party high command. He will tap the traditional Congress votes of Brahmins, minorities and SC/ST.