New Delhi, July 31: The BJP has claimed the entire Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) was set to merge with it “shortly”, minus founder Babulal Marandi and his close associate and MLA Pradeep Yadav.
The party’s confidence in breaking one of Jharkhand’s cleanest regional outfits stems from last night’s meeting some of its MLAs had with new BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi.
A deal was sealed there. Four JVM legislators — Samresh Singh (Bokaro), Nirbhaya Kumar Shahabadi (Giridih), Chandrika Mahtha (Jamua) and Jai Prakash Singh Bhokta (Simaria) — joined the BJP.
Today, a well-placed BJP leader said three more MLAs were set to join in the next couple of days. Although he did not disclose names, he revealed that these three had also met Shah.
That leaves Marandi, a former chief minister who left the BJP to float his outfit following the emergence of Arjun Munda’s leadership and “serious differences” with former BJP president Rajnath Singh, with four legislators.
If the BJP’s political project in poll-bound Jharkhand is executed to its logical conclusion, it will be seen as nothing short of a “coup” and a feather in the cap of Shah whose anointment the party’s national council will formally ratify on August 9.
Shah’s innings started on an indifferent note when the BJP lost all the three by-elections in Uttarakhand after making a clean sweep of the state’s five Lok Sabha seats barely 60 days before.
After the last Assembly elections, the JVM had 11 MLAs. Now, Marandi is left with four MLAs. But, the BJP claimed it had worked on them, too.
“Now, of the four, three have agreed to come to the BJP,” another senior party leader said, adding that a deal was expected next week.
Asked what stopped Marandi from following the rest of the JVM to return to the BJP, the leader said, “He passed up a golden chance before the Lok Sabha polls. From (Narendra) Modi down, everyone was keen to take him back. But he imposed conditions like wanting to be projected as the chief minister in the next Assembly elections while we insisted his comeback should be unconditional. He did not agree and the matter ended there.”
The leader, a central functionary closely involved with the Jharkhand BJP, said once Marandi lost the Lok Sabha poll from Dumka, the party lost its “earlier enthusiasm” over his return.
“His stature dipped and with that, his political utility for us. Now even if he seeks an unconditional return, we are not receptive to the idea,” he said, adding that Marandi was not a “greater” leader than Uttar Pradesh’s Kalyan Singh.
Like Marandi, Kalyan had quit the BJP in a fit of pique and floated his party that made little headway in the Assembly polls, unlike Marandi’s JVM that had popped up as a sizeable political block.
Kalyan Singh came back to the BJP, “chastened” by his failure and without pre-conditions. “Marandi should have emulated him,” the source said.
As Jharkhand warms up for its next election, the BJP claimed it had “reasons to believe” that as a national party with a “massive” mandate at the Centre, voters would root for it over other regional entities.
A Lok Sabha MP from the state explained why: “Not just the JVM, many political figures find the BJP attractive because they see it as honest, focused primarily on people’s development, regardless of castes and communities, appreciate its overall ideology and its strong leadership at the Centre. It’s a convincing package. In contrast, the regional parties are found wanting in all these aspects.”