Babulal Marandi’s JVM(P), depleted by the flight of eight of its 11 MLAs, is carrying out a risky experiment in Chatra district’s Simariya by promoting a candidate whose nomination has effectively been furthering the cause of a banned organisation he has links to.
The candidate is Ganesh Ganjhu, elder brother of Brajesh Ganjhu, chief of the banned LWE organisation Tritiya Sammelan Prastuti Committee.
The TSPC has thrown its weight behind Ganesh, especially in Lawalong block where its top leaders live: no other party managed to open campaign offices there. Reports from the ground indicate that the TSPC, whose chief Brajesh is widely expected to become a politician eventually, has used its clout to support JVM(P) candidates in adjoining Chatra and Latehar, which voted on November 25.
Former CM Marandi had lost his son Anup in 2007, killed by alleged Maoists. Yet, cornered after most his legislators defected to the BJP, Marandi seems to have prioritised survival over everything else. His party had also given its Tamar ticket to Mahadev Ravinath Pahan, related to Kundan Pahan, the state’s second-most-wanted Maoist leader.
By giving the TSPC the opportunity to win three seats, Marandi risks being beholden to the Ganjhu brothers if they succeed. It is also a measure of the TSPC’s growth over the past five years that it aspires to win three seats.
The JMM is not far behind either: it has given tickets to the wives of former Maoists in Tamar and Chatra; its Simariya candidate Rajkumari Devi is the wife of banned organisation Jharkhand Prastuti Committee’s chief Guddu Ganjhu.
“Babulal Marandi is a good leader, but he has spoilt his party’s name by giving the ticket to Ganesh here,” said Binod Bihari Paswan, the CPI’s Simariya candidate, who was fired upon by unidentified assailants on Saturday night. “I am sure it was the TSPC. Before I filed my nomination, two boys on a bike had threatened me saying only Ganesh Ganjhu will contest from here,” said Binod, whom the bullets missed and who now moves around with seven bodyguards.
The BJP has also complained to the Election Commission, alleging its workers have been beaten up. “Ganesh Ganjhu has not let my supporters campaign in Lawalong,” said candidate Sujeet Bharati. This newspaper has reported that the TSPC was formed by the state police and continues to enjoy its patronage.
In the 2010 elections to local bodies, the TSPC had ensured that most of Lawalong would be represented by its nominees, elected unopposed. Brajesh Ganjhu is himself the deputy panchayat president of Lawalong. Sources in Lawalong told this newspaper that on Monday, Ganesh distributed blankets among voters. These blankets, the sources presumed, had been supplied by the state government to panchayats.
Earlier this year, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had told the assembly that former DGP V D Ram had formed the TSPC. Ram is currently a Lok Sabha member of the BJP; there were allegations that the TSPC had supported his attempt to be Palamu MP. The TSPC had supported the BJP’s LS campaign in Chatra too — Ganesh was then a BJP member. He had moved over from the JMM, which gave him a ticket in 2009: he came second.
This assembly election, Chatra’s outgoing MLA and RJD candidate Janardhan Paswan has alleged the TSPC supported JVM(P) candidate Satyanand Bhokta by holding jan adalats. This newspaper had reported from Latehar about how a TSPC squad threatened villagers, demanding votes for the JVM(P)’s Prakash Ram. And the JVM(P)’s LS election candidate Neelam Devi — a Prakash Ram choice — was reportedly supported by the CPI(Maoist).