AJSU, Congress brace for fight in Jharkhand
It will be a straight fight between NDAbacked AJSU candidate Sunita Choudhary and ruling alliance-backed Congress candidate Bajrang Mahato in the Ramgarh Assembly bypoll, scheduled on February 27.
There are 14 candidates in the fray after the filing of nominations ended at 5.30pm on Tuesday. However, since the BJP has decided to support the AJSU candidate who is the wife of Giridih MP Chandra Prakash Choudhary, who had represented the Ramgarh Assembly continuously from 2005 to 2019, it would prove to be the toughest challenge for the ruling alliance-backed Congress candidate Mahato, the husband of convicted MLA Mamata Devi.
In all the four bye-elections (Dumka, Madhupur, Bermo and Mandar) held under Hemant Soren-led government in the last three years, the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance won comfortably.
The Ramgarh bypoll was necessitated after the sitting Congress MLA Mamta Devi was disqualified following her conviction in December last year by the Hazaribagh district court in the Gola police firing case of 2016 and was awarded five years’ imprisonment. She is now in Hazaribagh jail.
Sensing the battle is tough, the Congress leaders in a show of strength led by AICC Jharkhand in-charge Avinash Pande along with most of the Jharkhand cabinet ministers from the party (Banna Gupta, Badal Patralekh and Alamgir Alam) and Congress’s lone Lok Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Geeta Koda, were present during Bajrang Mahato’s filing of nomination.
“People are aware that our MLA was implicated in the case and there is a sympathy wave in favour of our candidate. An emotional letter, written by Mamta Devi who had delivered a child months before being convicted and is now in jail with her child, is also being distributed among the masses,” said Congress spokesperson Rakesh Sinha.
Sinha further said that both the JMM and the Left parties are also supporting their candidate which would help them in the bypoll.
“The work done by the current government for the tribals and moolvasis (original settlers) and the repeated attempts to disturb the government by the BJP and the AJSU is well known among masses and we are trying to make them aware too,” added Sinha.
AJSU spokesperson Deosharan Bhagat, however, exuded confidence in their candidate’s victory.
“There is a sense of resentment among the masses as the present state government has failed to fulfil its promises and meet expectations. This will be reflected in the outcome of the bypoll. We are going house to house, campaigning for our candidate to ensure that there is a record victory for our candidate.”
Sunita Choudhary filed her nomination on Saturday. Sources in AJSU claimed that the BJP’s decision to back their candidate has tilted the scale in their favour.
“In 2019, the BJP candidate had polled nearly 31,000 votes and the AJSU candidate Sunita Devi had lost by over 30,000 votes to Congress’s Mamta Devi. However, the BJP traditional votes will be for AJSU,” said a AJSU leader.