The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 21 , 2017

BJP fields Hemlal, but JMM mum

Ranchi, March 20: The BJP today decided to field state unit vice-president Hemlal Murmu as its candidate for the April 9 by-election to the Littipara Assembly seat, confident that the Santhal Pargana strongman will be able to take on the Opposition that seems to be veering around to backing the JMM's nominee whoever that may be.

Murmu, who joined the BJP in 2014 but failed to win in either the Lok Sabha or Assembly elections that year, is scheduled to file his nomination papers tomorrow in the presence of state BJP president Laxman Gilua and other senior leaders.

"He is a well known personality in Santhal Pargana politics and has the potential to divide the JMM vote bank," state BJP vice-president Deepak Prakash said about Murmu, who had earlier won the Rajmahal Lok Sabha seat and Barhet Vidhan Sabha seat on JMM tickets.

"Murmu has been working hard to resolve doubts among local tribals with regard to the amendments in the tenancy laws," Prakash said, adding that he would be accompanying Gilua and others to Pakur SDO's office when Murmu files his nomination papers tomorrow, the last day to do so.

The Littipara Assembly constituency, represented by the JMM so far, fell vacant on January 17 after the sudden death of its MLA Anil Murmu.

During the past few days, several leaders, including former local MLA Simon Marandi and Anil Murmu's widows, Unika Eudora Hansda and Nisha Shabnam Hansda, have called on JMM executive president Hemant Soren to seek a party ticket.

But Hemant has so far remained non-committal with his party's principal general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya claiming they were in no hurry. "We are aware of the deadline. We will announce the name of our party candidate at the opportune moment and also clarify who all have agreed to support us in the bypoll," he said today.

Former Littipara MLA Simon Marandi filed his nomination papers today as an Independent. The word is that he was turned down by the JMM.

Anil's widow Unika got hold of a set of nomination papers today, fuelling speculation that she had sealed her candidature for the JMM.

Both the Congress and the JVM have been talking about a common candidate. "I haven't been conveyed anything officially," opined Congress legislature party leader and Pakur MLA Alamgir Alam, who had been assigned the task of exploring party prospects at Littipara.

"But, since we haven't finalised the name of our party candidate, it is likely that we would be supporting the JMM candidate," he maintained.

Tomorrow is last date for filing nomination papers. Pakur SDO Arvind Kumar Lal, who is also returning officer for the bypoll, maintained that 11 persons had so far availed of nomination forms.

"Simon Marandi and Jyotish Baski filed their nomination papers as Independents. Another Independent, Shrilal Baski, also filed nomination papers a few days ago," the SDO said.

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