JHARKHAND MUKTI MORCHA (DEMOCRATIC)
He split with Soren, their parties merged years after his death
REGISTERED ADDRESS: Pump Road, Tonka Toli, Chakradharpur, Singhbhum (West), Jharkhand
ON THE SPOT: The house of a four-time MLA, now with JMM, whose late husband had founded the group that would become a party after his death, and which would later go on to merge into the JMM
Joba Manjhi, MLA from Manoharpur, has been elected four times in five attempts on various party symbols — 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2014 — and served as minister in undivided Bihar as well as in Jharkhand until 2009. Clad in a simple saree as she sat in the shade of a parking spot outside her home, she said her political story was really the story of her husband Devendra Manjhi, a leader of the “Jungle Movement” of Saranda who was killed in 1994.
“I used to serve tea and food to people who came to meet him. When he was killed, the youngest of my four sons was still a baby,” she said. “Many of my husband’s supporters told me I must take the responsibility of this huge family as their mother. Six months later, I won [on a Jharkhand People’s Party ticket]. It was all out of sympathy.”
The outfit formed by her husband, JMM(D), was not a party then. It was registered as one only in 2002 and never fielded a candidate. Ahead of the 2014 assembly elections, it merged into the JMM.
Prof Nazm Ansari, former chairperson of Jharkhand State Housing Corporation, and a family friend of the Manjhis, described the background of the JMM(D).
He said Devendra, who was leading the Jungle Movement in the 1970s-80s, and Shibu Soren, who was leading the Mahajan Movement in Santhal Paragana, met in Hazaribagh jail, while Vinod Bihari Mahato was leading Shivaji Sena in Koylanchal. A K Roy, a prominent leader from Dhanbad, brought the three together into the JMM.
In 1984, Devendra parted ways with Soren after the latter had met then PM Indira Gandhi on his own. He formed the JMM(D) as an organisation that often fielded independent candidates. After he was shot dead in 1994, his wife won in 1995 on a JPP ticket, then in 2000 as an independent with the “two leaves” symbol — also the symbol of the JMM(D) that wasn’t yet a party.
Although the party was registered in 2001, its members contested in 2005 on the symbol of the United Goa Democratic Party, allying with this party because it had been assigned the “two leaves” symbol that people identified with JMM(D) members, Ansari said. This happened in 2009 too.
Then in 2014, Soren unified a number of parties with “Jharkhand” in their name, including JMM(D). “Even today though, people associate Joba with the party with the ‘two leaves’ symbol. She is still the face of the JMM(D),” Ansari said, while Joba herself said the party is gone.
HARYANA LOK DAL
Devi Lal’s INLD in original form
REGISTERED ADDRESS: 705 Sonipat Road, Rohtak, Haryana
ON THE SPOT: An MRF Tyres showroom
The Haryana Lok Dal was founded in October 1996 by Chaudhary Devi Lal, former deputy prime minister and two-time Haryana chief minister. Since 1998, when it was renamed, it has been known as Indian National Lok Dal, with Om Praksah Chautala as its current president .
“Our party used to be called Haryana Lok Dal,” said Satish Nandal, the INLD’s Rohtak district president. “After it was renamed Indian National Lok Dal, the party office was moved from Sonipat Road to a building near near the Rohtak bus stand.”
Few of the buildings on Sonipat Road have a building number on display. A retired bank employee, Narender Singh Dahiya, who owns a house behind the then Haryana Lok Dal office, said the office was demolished after the party moved out, and an MRF Tyres showroom stands on the plot today.
“Tau Devi Lal and Chautala Sahab used to visit this office with their party workers. Over the years, the party has expanded and changed,” said Dahiya. He wondered why the Election Commission’s records have not been updated so many years after the change in name.
Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal
A breakaway SAD group that returned to parent party
Registered address: 103, New Officers Colony, Patiala, Punjab
ON THE SPOT: A new owner in the house from where the party once ran
Some 2½ years ago, said the present owner of the house registered as the party’s address, he got a knock on the door. “They were income tax officials and came inquiring about Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal,” said Gurmeet Malhotra, who owns a cloth store in Patiala and bought the house from its previous owners — one of them the son of Prem Singh Chandumajra, the erstwhile party’s general secretary.
“It was the IT officials’ second visit,” said Malhotra; the previous visit had been a couple of years earlier.
The SHSAD had ceased to exist in 2003, much before these visits. Formed on May 30, 1999, by Akali stalwart Gurcharan Singh Tohra after the split in the SAD and his expulsion, SHSAD contested the 2002 polls in Punjab. Though the party did not win any seats, it marred the SAD’s prospects. The Congress emerged victorious and Capt Amarinder Singh became the chief minister.
On June 13, 2003, Badal and Tohra announced their reunion, and Tohra declared he was dismantling SHSAD.
Tohra died on April 1, 2004. Chandumajra is now the SAD MP from Anandpur Sahib. His son Harinder Pal Singh Chandumajra is the SAD candidate from Sanour in the upcoming assembly elections.
At least three houses in Patiala’s New Officers Colony are numbered 103; the house that used to belong to Chandumajra is now 103A. “The house was once the office of the SHSAD. It was jointly owned by Chandumajra’s son and another person,” said Malhotra, the present owner.
Chandumajra could not be contacted for comment despite several attempts.
Former minister Manjit Singh Calcutta, a close aide of Tohra who scripted the Badal-Tohra reunion, said the party had ceased to exist after that. “It was on June 13, 2003. I remember the date as my birthday also falls on June 13,” said Calcutta, who had come to be known in his party circle as the “Samjhauta Express” for his efforts at bringing the Akali factions back together.
The Noida parties
A ‘dead party’, an overgrown bungalow, a factory
Noida has three parties of the 255 delisted by the Election Commission. One of them has ceased to exist, another is not very active according to one of its founder members, while the address of the third party is at a bungalow long abandoned.
Rashtravadi Vikas Dal
Registered address: A-37, Sector-26, Noida-201301, UP
On the party: Home of founder, whose family says their party no longer exists
A two-storey bungalow in municipal yellow and red behind wrought iron gates is the registered office of the Rashtravadi Vikas Dal. The wife of founder president and chief patron S P Chaudhary came to the gate. “We had started the party but now it is over. It does not exist,” she said, banging the door.
On Facebook, the party has a “closed group” page with 18 members; Chaudhary is not one. The group administrator is Lt Colonel (retired) S P Singh, who claimed he has joined another party. “Chaudhary had handed me the mantle of president of Rashtravadi Vikas Dal but then came back later. So I have joined the Adarsh Vyavastha Party,” said Singh, who also unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Saba election from Gautam Buddh Nagar on a ticket from the Nav Bharat Democratic Party. Singh said Chaudhary, a retired civil servant, formed his party in 2003 roped and asked him (Singh) last year “to revive it. “That party was dying,” Singh said. “Four core members including I last held a meeting two months ago, when we decided to dissolve the party, though on paper it is still functional. While I was there, the party’s accounts had no money.”
Krantikari Manuwadi Morcha
Registered address: F-62, Sector-11, Noida-20130
On the party: A factory run by one of the party’s founder leaders
A two-storey factory manufacturing electrical equipment stands at the address. The guards say production is in progress though no sound comes from inside. At the gates is a white Tata Sumo. on the rear pane of which is stuck a label with Krantikari Manuwadi Morcha and a phone number written on it. Factory owner R K Bhardwaj, who answers the call, is a retired Army man who is a founding member and acting president of the Krantikari Manuwadi Morcha, a right-wing party founded in the 1990s. He said it is still functional though not very active. “Our finances are accounted for, though I have not had the time to file audits for the Election Commission.”
Indian Ekta Party
Registered address: A-180, Sector-40, Noida, UP
On the spot: An abandoned bungalow overgrown in vegetation
The two-storey bungalow surrounded with vegetation is the only unoccupied property in a row of houses. A neighbour’s silver Maruti Swift stood parked outside the entrance. “No one has been living in the house for one year. We don’t know if any political party is registered at this address,” said a member of the family next door.
Thesia Jananayaka Makkal Katchi
Here ran a party, until the landlord threw its founder out
REGISTERED ADDRESS: New No. 2, Old No. 33, 2nd Cross Street, West CIT Nagar, Nandanam, Chennai-600035
ON THE GROUND: A house once rented by the party founder, before he was evicted 14 years ago, the owner says.
The party’s address is a mansion owned by Venkat Subbaiah Mannam, a retired marine engineer, who snaps at anyone who comes to enquire about his former tenant — the man who had founded the party and apparently caused the landlord a lot of trouble.
“Elangovan Narayansamy was a headache for me,” said Mannam. “In 2002, he rented my ground floor for eight months. He was forced to vacate after I disconnected water as he had failed to pay the rent for three months.”
He remembered Narayansamy as an “astrologer” introduced by a property agent. “Four months after he had rented my house, I learnt he had gone to Delhi and registered a party. Lots of people started coming to my house; they dirtied the compound with banners. It was a real nuisance, and he stopped paying rent,” Mannam said.
Mannam, who is in eighties, claimed that Narayansamy then rented another room in the neighbourhood and was thrown out again, two months later. “Narayansamy came to me again seeking a room. I refused,” Mannam said.
“Two months ago, the Chennai city police commissionerate sent me a letter seeking details of my tenant. An inspector from Saidapet station arrived. I wrote to the commissionerate about my experience with him,” Mannam said. “Narayansamy was also a loan defaulter with banks. I used to get several letters on non-payment.”
Mannam showed a bunch of envelopes addressed to Thesia Jananayaka Makkal Katchi. Two of the latest letters were from the Election Commission. He felt the EC must have delisted a party that was never born. “Or died long long ago.”
Activist who floated parties, fought polls
Registered address: 137 B-1, Gautam Nagar, New Delhi-110049
ON THE SPOT: A dairy shop
The address belongs to Choudhry Dairy. Owner R K Tomar, 74, now heading Navrajya Nirman Mahasangh, an umbrella body supporting all demands for new states, has been associated with many political parties and has also fought the election from South Delhi in 1984. About Panchal Morcha, he said he had founded it with a single office-bearer and it now has none; the last meeting was about 10 years ago. He is also the head of Dollywood Association, a body representing the film industry in Delhi. He said he heads another defunct political party called Voters Party, which had once demanded pension for voters. A petition was also submitted to Parliament for this 10 years ago, he said, and claimed it had the signatures of 137 MPs.
—Avishek G Dastidar
Bharat Pensioner’s Front
Three families, no clue about party
Registered address: R-17, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi-110016
On the spot: Three families of tenants, owners away
The three-storey house in the residential area has three families. No one could throw any light on a party that may have run from here. The ground floor looks like no one has lived there for years, with rolled newspapers heaped in one corner of the verandah. It is owned by a family called the Thakurs, residents said. D S Bawa, a former civil servant, was the original owner of the house and died in 2008. His family lives in Hawaii and his tenants live in the house. He also ran Bawa Development Study, a trust.
—Avishek G Dastidar
Bharatiya Parivartan Morcha
An address that leads nowhere
Registered address: 3/8, Shah Nagar, Mangal Puri Terminal, Palam, New Delhi
On the spot: No Shah Nagar, only Shad Nagar; no details of party
Enquiries about the registered address draw a blank in Palam. Shah Nagar fails to ring a bell, though there is a Shad Nagar a few metres from the Mangalpuri bus terminal — but here too, residents have not heard of the political party that claims it has an office in the area. “The only neighbourhood that sounds remotely similar to Shah Nagar is Shad Nagar, but we have not heard of any such political party here,” said a rickshaw puller near the bus terminal.