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Congress not keen on allies

Ranchi, July 24: A perception seems to be gaining ground in the higher echelons of the Congress that the party should break fresh ground in Jharkhand in the coming Assembly elections and do so without any tie-ups.

This was apparent after party general secretary Madhusudan Mistry appointed 14 facilitators for Jharkhand on Tuesday and asked them to work out micro-level details of each constituency and submit reports on the party’s prospects.

Sources revealed that a fortnight back, the state unit received a directive from the central leadership to submit reports by the end of July on Assembly constituencies which the Congress could win on its own.

Both central and state leaderships of the Congress were in the throes of confusion after the party failed to win a single seat from Jharkhand in the parliamentary elections. The question was whether to continue the alliance with the JMM and the RJD.

“A decision on our alliance with the JMM, RJD or any other party will be taken after assessing the party’s strengths on the ground. Opinion is divided on this matter in the party. In politics, sometimes it is worth taking risks,” said state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat.

Apart from the 14 Assembly seats the Congress won in 2009, the party has identified 20 other constituencies it believes it can win on its own. These are: Gumla, Potka, Maheshpur, Rajmahal, Jama, Shikaripara, Jamuwa, Kolebira, Simdega, Manika, Bishunpur, Chaibasa, Manoharpur, Chandankyari, Borio, Godda, Tundi, Jagannathpur, Pakur and Berhait.

Of these, seven are with the JMM.

As things stand, the Congress does not see any gain in continuing its alliance with the JMM. In the parliamentary elections, the Congress was able to contest nine of the 14 constituencies according to a seat-sharing deal it was able to browbeat the JMM into accepting.

A pact with the JMM and the RJD for the Assembly polls means that the party would fail to make any inroads in the Santhal Pargana region with as many as 18 seats. Both the JMM, with 10 MLAs, and RJD with two, would like to increase their tally in the region.

Also, the Congress, which saw desertions during the parliamentary elections, fears a re-run if senior leaders were denied tickets for the Assembly elections.

“More leaders can be accommodated if the party contests all 81 seats. We are facing problems in Santhal Pargana where a good number of established leaders, like Alamgir Alam, Uday Shankar Singh Chunna and others, have become inert as they don’t see any electoral prospects for themselves,” a senior party leader admitted.

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