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Congress, JMM strike seat-sharing deal for Lok Sabha

Share reaffirms JMM's supremacy within the Opposition alliance

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi
  • Published 9.02.19, 4:26 AM
  • Updated 9.02.19, 4:26 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) party chief Babulal Marandi The Telegraph file picture

The Congress and JMM have finally reached a seat-sharing deal for the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand, but JVM is unhappy with the two seats it has been given with party chief Babulal Marandi even threatening to pull out of the pre-election alliance.

According to a senior leader, who was privy to discussions held at Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s residence here on Thursday, the Congress would contest seven, the JMM four, JVM two and RJD one of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Rahul met JMM leader Hemant Soren, along with state Congress chief Ajoy Kumar and the party’s Jharkhand minder R.P.N. Singh. After the talks, Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) sources confirmed, the “framework” of the alliance between the Congress, JMM, JVM and RJD had been worked out.

JPCC media in-charge Rajesh Thakur said in a statement: “It has been decided that the Congress will fight on most seats and lead the alliance in the Lok Sabha polls. In the Assembly polls, JMM will fight on most seats with party’s executive president Hemant Soren leading it.”

Thursday’s deal, which reaffirmed JMM’s supremacy within the Opposition alliance, was reached in the absence of JVM and RJD representatives. The RJD, which doesn't have an MLA in Jharkhand, managed to make the cut, apparently at the behest of Lalu Yadav.

JVM president Babulal Marandi made it clear he “did not agree” with the “framework” that was being reported in the media, but clarified that he was yet to hear from the Congress formally.

“The way they are going about it, they will lose all the seats. Why should we be part of a losing alliance? We will use all our strength in the places we can influence to defeat the BJP,” Marandi said.

“From the beginning, our demand was Godda, Koderma and Chatra. Pradip Yadav has spent five months in jail for protesting against the Adani power project in Godda. The Congress told him yesterday (Wednesday) that they want Godda,” he said.

“Furqan Ansari is a good leader, but the Congress must understand that the dynamics have changed in Godda where we led the agitation. I suggested that Furqan be accommodated with a Rajya Sabha berth in 2020,” he said, adding that the JVM was willing to sacrifice Koderma.

“But it looks like the Congress is not serious about defeating the BJP,” Marandi signed off. Congress sources said that the CPIML-Liberation, which has consistently been a runner-up in Koderma, had to be dropped from the alliance due to the JVM’s insistence on the legacy seat.

“We are looking at the option of including the Left (which has two MLAs),” said a senior Congress leader.