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Jharkhand elections: BJP fields turncoats, treads cautiously to reduce rebels

While four of the five MLAs who joined the party last month have been included in Sunday’s list of candidates for Jharkhand, the BJP has withheld the names for some seats where there is difference of opinion among leaders.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: November 12, 2019 6:46:33 am
jharkhand elections, jharkhand assembly polls, bjp congress jharkhand candidates, Raghubar Das, jharkhand BJP candidates list, jharkhand bjp, jharkhand news, indian express Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

Despite warning signals in Haryana and Maharashtra elections, the BJP in Jharkhand has stuck to its formula of fielding turncoats who joined the party just before the polls. However, the party is treading cautiously to reduce the number of rebels.

While four of the five MLAs who joined the party last month have been included in Sunday’s list of candidates for Jharkhand, the BJP has withheld the names for some seats where there is difference of opinion among leaders.

The party had announced that it would fight the November-December elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Raghubar Das, and its list of 52 candidates reflects his interests. In the first list, the party has included Manoj Yadav (Barhi), Kunal Sarangi (Baharagora), J P Patel (Mandhu) and Bhanu Pratap Sahi (Bhawanathpur) — MLAs who joined the BJP in October. While Yadav was in the Congress, Sarangi and Patel migrated from the JMM. Sahi was an independent MLA.

The national leadership, sources said, has sought more inputs from the Jharkhand unit to decide on some key seats and the seat-sharing arrangement with the All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU). While AJSU has demanded around 19 seats, BJP leaders said it would spare less than a dozen seats for the elections to the 81-member Assembly. The AJSU had contested eight seats and won five in the last Assembly election.

According to leaders familiar with the developments, the discussions are stuck mainly on five seats — Lohardaga, Chandankiyari, Khunti, Sisai and Jamshedpur West. While AJSU is keen to field its candidates in Lohardaga and Chandankiyari, the sitting MLA in Jamshedpur West is Saryu Rai, a minister in the Raghubar Das government, who does not enjoy a good rapport with the CM. A source said the Chief Minister’s camp is also not backing the claim of Dinesh Oran, who wants to retain his Sisai seat, as “he had created hurdles for the CM”. There is also opposition from one section of party on fielding Neelkant Singh Munda from Khunti again.

Rai is keen on retaining Jamshedpur West seat, which is considered a tough seat for the BJP due to significant presence of Muslims. Denial of a party ticket to him could lead to rebellion by Rai and others.

The bone of contention with the AJSU is the constituencies of Lohardaga and Chandankiyari. The BJP wants to field Sukhdeo Bhagat, former Congress president in Jharkhand who joined the BJP in October along with four other MLAs, in Loherdaga. The BJP argues that AJSU had performed poorly in the by-elections in Lohardaga and Chandankiyari, and the sitting MLA Amar Kumar Bauri is currently a state minister.

PTI adds: The AJSU on Monday announced its first list of 12 candidates. Party president Sudesh Kumar Mahto was renominated from Silli seat. State Water Resources Minister Ramchandra Sahis will contest from Jugsalai, a party release said.

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