The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) continued to speak in different voices regarding a ‘grand alliance’ with the Congress and other parties in Jharkhand. While the party has said that efforts are on for a seat-sharing arrangement, party chief Shibu Soren told his supporters in Jamtara Thursday that the party would contest elections alone and did not need allies.
JMM leaders sought to downplay the statement, saying it was an attempt to galvanise party workers. They added that meetings on seat-sharing would soon be held with top Congress leaders.
Addressing party workers at Jhilua village in Jamtara district, Soren said they should not worry about an alliance, and the party would contest elections on its own. Jhilua is where Soren launched the movement against mahajani and zamindari systems that later catapulted him to the forefront of the movement of tribals for carving out a separate state from Bihar in the early 1970s.
However, JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said: “Soren was in his parliamentary area of Dumka. Some things are said to galvanise party workers.”
Asked when the JMM would begin talks with the Congress and other parties on seat-sharing, Bhattacharya said they were expected to start soon.
A JMM leader said, “Seat-sharing and other issues are being handled by acting chief Hemant Soren. Of course, Shibu Soren is our tallest leader. There is no confusion that a grand alliance will take shape.”
A state Congress leader said: “Preliminary talks have been held with JMM. We are confident a grand alliance will emerge.”
While both the parties have been claiming that they are in favour of a grand alliance, confusing signals from the JMM seems to have irked the Congress.
Back in March, the Congress and JMM reached an understanding that the former would lead the Lok Sabha elections, while the JMM would be leading the grand alliance in the Assembly elections.
“We had given Soren a clear-cut leadership role for the Assembly polls and were expecting him to allow Congress to take lead in Lok Sabha polls. However, a month ago, when he was asked whether he accepted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as leader of the coalition, he said it would be decided after the polls. Naturally, we said that the leader in the Assembly polls will also be decided after the polls,” said Congress spokesperson Rajesh Thakur.
State BJP spokesperson Praveen Prabhakar said: “The statement shows how wary Soren is of Congress due to its history of ditching JMM at crucial times.”