The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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Mamata fails to open score

The Modi wave couldn’t muscle past the Mamata hurricane in Bengal, but Trinamul Congress failed to open its MP account in Jharkhand as all its 10 candidates in the tribal-dominated state were badly beaten at the hustings on Friday.

Mamata’s four poster boys Bandhu Tirkey (Ranchi), Chamra Linda (Lohardaga), Chandra Shekhar Dubey (Dhanbad) and Kameshwar Baitha (Palamau) lost miserably. Each trailed way behind candidates of BJP, Congress and regional parties such as Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and All Jharkhand Students’ Union (Ajsu).

Trinamul’s most tragic figure in Jharkhand is Kameshwar Baitha, the first Maoist to join mainstream politics and enter Parliament in 2009 on a JMM ticket from Palamau.

Baitha teamed up with Trinamul this March, when the JMM, because of its coalition compulsions with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), handed Palamau to Congress, which in turn gave it to the RJD as part of their seat-sharing pact.

As a Palamau sitting MP, Baitha was one of Trinamul’s top bets. But he slid to fourth place, below BJP’s V.D. Ram, RJD’s Manoj Kumar Bhuiyan and JVM’s Ghuran Ram.

Baitha’s 2009 win was attributed more to his personal clout than JMM. This time, if Baitha managed to stand second to BJP’s Ram, former policeman and political novice, he could have clung to a face-saver. But, he was nowhere.

Ranchi contestant Bandhu, who languished at fifth position behind BJP’s Ram Tahal Choudhary, Congressman Subodh Kant Sahay, Ajsu’s Sudesh Mahto and JVM’s Amitabh Choudhary, didn’t get half the votes he netted in the 2009 polls as an Independent. Chamra Linda, another Independent, was the best-performing of all TMC nominees, ranking third in Lohardaga behind BJP’s Sudarshan Bhagat and Congressman Rameshwar Oraon.

Chandra Shekhar Dubey, a motor mouth who quit the Congress — he was an MLA from Bishrampur — came fifth, after BJP’s P.N. Singh, Congressman Ajay Dubey, Marxist Coordination’s Anand Mahto and JVM’s Samresh Singh.

Naushad Alam (Chatra), Ajit Kumar Singh (Hazaribagh), Babulal Soren (Dumka), Damodar Singh (Godda), Ashutosh Verma (Giridih) and Manju Kumari (Koderma) were not taken seriously earlier.

To show she was serious about Jharkhand, on April 5, Mamata held two rallies in Ranchi and Dhanbad. Her trusted aides Mukul Roy, Derek O’Brien and minister Soumen Mahapatra also pitched in.

A Jharkhand no-show may not matter to Trinamul now, which along with the AIADMK, is one of India’s biggest regional powers. But, its ambition of a Jharkhand footprint was thwarted.

Reasons for Trinamul’s dismal showing here are not far to seek. Leaders of other parties warned voters Mamata would treat the tribal state as her stepchild, reminding them how she short-changed Jharkhand in rail budgets earlier and tried to move headquarters of many central PSUs.