Singh vs Singh in Jharia contest

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By Praduman Choubey
  • Published 13.11.14


It will be a keen family contest when the Jharia Assembly constituency goes to polls on December 14, with two scions of the authoritarian Singh Mansion, who owe allegiance to rival parties, bagging tickets to the coveted seat.


While Jharia sitting MLA Kunti Singh's son Sanjiv (29) has been fielded by the BJP this time, elder cousin and Dhanbad deputy mayor Niraj Singh (32), who joined the Congress this August, has been declared the party's nominee.


Niraj had made his electoral debut from Dhanbad in the 2009 Assembly elections as an Independent candidate. Although he secured the third position, his formal launch into politics was quite promising. A year later, he was elected Dhanbad Municipal Corporation deputy mayor.


Currently, the alumnus of Delhi Public School, who also boasts a bachelor of engineering degree, enjoys the patronage of Congress veterans like animal husbandry minister Mannan Mallick and finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, besides state party president Sukhdeo Bhagat.


"My fight is not against any family member (read Kunti and Sanjiv) but for the deprived residents of Jharia, who are grappling with myriad problems like displacement. I expect the Jharia people to support me," Niraj told The Telegraph.


The political greenhorn plans to cash in on the large-scale infrastructure development in Jharia, including construction of roads, drains and community halls, that took place during the tenure of Bachcha Singh, his favourite uncle and the first urban development minister of Jharkhand (2001-05).


Bachcha is the younger brother of Late Suryadev Singh, MLA Kunti's husband. He lost his first two elections in 1991 and 1995, both as Samata Party candidate from Jharia, but won in 2000 from the same seat on a JDU ticket.


His relationship with Kunti and Sanjiv soured when his sister-in-law won from Jharia on a BJP ticket in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009. Bachcha, who had joined BJP in 2005, did not renew his membership last year and since has offered tacit support to his favourite nephew, youngest brother Rajan Singh's son Niraj.


Kunti, on the other hand, decided to battle youth power with youth power and passed on the baton to son Sanjiv, who is also general secretary of Janata Mazdoor Sangh, a trade union outfit.


Like cousin Niraj, the 29-year-old too enjoys patronage; that of seasoned BJP politicians like former chief minister Arjun Munda and state party president Ravindra Rai.


"The Congress has no scope in Jharia," he exuded confidence born of both dynasty pride and political history.


"That party has not won an election in Jharia since 1977 when my father (Suryadev Singh) won his first polls as a Janata Party candidate. I am confident that the people of Jharia will vote for development ushered in by Narendra Modi after the BJP came to power at the Centre," Sanjiv said.


Sanjiv, who has not fought any general election before, has started intense campaigning since his name was declared by the BJP more than a fortnight ago.


Another candidate to watch out for is councillor of ward No. 39 Rustam Ansari, who joined the Marxist Coordination Committee this month after leaving Ajsu. Ansari may cause an upset in the polls by creating division of votes between the two cousins.