Suraj Mandal, a former Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP — who was once named in the cash-for-vote controversy over a no-trust motion during Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s government in 1993 — has joined the BJP.
Mandal was later discharged of the charges by a Delhi court in 2004, on the basis of a Supreme Court ruling that a Parliamentarian cannot be tried for actions that have a bearing on his behaviour inside Parliament.
Downplaying his role in the controversy, BJP leaders said Mandal had enormous experience because of his role in the Jharkhand movement and would strengthen the BJP’s prospects in the state’s Santhal Pargana region. The BJP has been trying to make inroads in the region, which has so far been a stronghold of JMM, the main opposition party in the state.
Considered to be a close aide of JMM chief Shibu Soren, Mandal quit the party in 1999 and floated the Jharkhand Vikas Dal.
Mandal, in the presence of state BJP chief Laxman Gilua, formally joined BJP along with nearly 400 supporters here on Sunday.
Reacting to the induction of the former JMM MP, state BJP spokesman Deen Dayal Barnwal said, “We welcome anybody who is ready to accept the party’s ideology, which is only about development and taking everybody along.” He also said the outfit floated by Mandal has been merged with BJP. Asked about charges Mandal faced in 1993, Barnwal said he was not aware of the details. A BJP leader said the charges faced by Mandal were something in the past and have no relevance now.
JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharjee said, “We don’t think that him (Mandal) joining the BJP will have much impact in Santhal Pargana.”
While Mandal could not be reached for a comment, he issued a statement saying, “We had fought for Jharkhand, not for the good times of a son or a daughter-in-law of a family. That pain continues to rile me. I have joined the BJP for the development of the state, as I believe that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is the only party that can develop the country and the state.”