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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Jharkhand: Lone Congress MP, wife of former CM Madhu Koda, joins BJP

Madhu Koda served a three-year jail term from 2017 in a coal-mining scam and is ineligible to contest polls

Animesh Bisoee Jamshedpur Published 27.02.24, 05:35 AM
(Left) Geeta Koda.

(Left) Geeta Koda. PTI picture.

Geeta Koda, the Congress’s lone Lok Sabha MP from Jharkhand, shifted allegiance to the BJP on Monday afternoon, striking the Grand Old Party a blow in the run-up to the general election.

Geeta is the wife of former Congress chief minister Madhu Koda who served a three-year jail term from 2017 in a coal-mining scam and is ineligible to contest polls.

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Koda occupies no major post in the Congress and Geeta’s defection is believed to have his consent.

A buoyed Babulal Marandi, the state BJP president, virtually acknowledged that the defection was part of his party’s strategy to win all the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.

“Last time, the NDA won 12 seats and missed two. This time we are going to win those two seats as well, and are preparing with that in mind,” Marandi said.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting the NDA a target of 400 seats overall, and the BJP that of 370, the ruling party needs to find ways of adding to its 2019 tally.

Geeta had in 2019 won the Singhbhum (ST) seat defeating the BJP candidate by over 70,000 votes while ally JMM’s Vijay Hansda had retained Rajmahal.

On Monday, Geeta said she had not set the BJP any conditions for joining the party, and that she was feeling “suffocated” in the Congress.

She accused the Congress of “pushing the country into ruin”, doing “appeasement politics” and “caring for only one family”.

“There’s no point staying in a party that is not concerned about the people,” she said, promising to serve the BJP “in whatever capacity required”.

An elated local BJP leader said: “Madhu Koda’s votes among the Ho tribe (which accounts for half the over 58 per cent ST population in Singhbhum parliamentary constituency) will come to us.”

He added: “Babulal Marandi has been trying to persuade Geeta Koda and Madhu Koda to shift allegiance for nearly nine months and it has paid off.”

State Congress president Rajesh Thakur put up a brave face. “It is indeed unfortunate. However, our party will not be impacted much by the desertion of cowardly leaders,” he said.

JMM central general secretary and spokesperson Vinod Pandey said his party had for nearly a year known that the BJP would try to engineer defections ahead of the polls.

“We told senior Congress leaders recently in Delhi about the BJP trying to poach Geeta Koda,” Pandey said.

“We have our (counter) strategy ready. Appointing Deepak Birua (Chaibasa Sadar MLA) as the first Ho tribal minister from the region will win over Ho tribals. Of the six Assembly seats under Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituency, five have JMM MLAs, which is ample proof of our strength.”

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