Weeks after the fiasco over backing controversial NRI Anshuman Mishra for the Rajya Sabha,the BJP suffered a second embarrassment in Jharkhand,after its senior leader S S Ahluwalia lost the race to Parliament to Congress candidate Pradeep Balmuchu. The second Rajya Sabha seat from Jharkhand went to JMMs Sanjeev Kumar.
The election,necessitated by the retirements of Ahluwalia and Congress member Mabel Rebello,was cancelled on March 30 after Rs 2.15 crore was seized from a car belonging to the brother of an independent candidate.
In todays poll,Balmuchu emerged first with 25 votes. Sanjeev Kumar got 23; Ahluwalia 20. Two independents backing the BJP-JMM government voted for Balmuchu.
Sixty-eight MLAs voted; 11 members of former chief minister Babulal Marandis Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and one CPI(ML) member stayed away. A candidate needed at least 23 votes to win.
Besides the 13 Congress MLAs,Balmuchu got the support of five RJD MLAs and seven independents,including Enos Ekka and Harinarain Rai,who have been jailed for corruption and money laundering. Sanjeev Kumar got 18 JMM votes and five from ally AJSU.
Detractors of Chief Minister Arjun Munda in the Jharkhand BJP blamed him for Ahluwalias defeat. But JMM secretary Binod Pandey said the BJP leadership had fielded Ahluwalia without consulting its allies. The results have proved that regional parties cannot be dictated to from the national capital.