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For Marandi, it is battle for survival today

In the last Lok Sabha elections, Marandi became so confident that he went up against Shibu Soren in Dumka.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | Giridhi |
December 14, 2014 2:17:25 am

The last time he contested an assembly election was in 2001. Babulal Marandi was then Jharkhand’s first chief minister and the byelection from Ramgarh was an easy contest. Eight other governments later, Marandi is contesting assembly elections again. This time, it is largely to keep his head above water.

When Jharkhand’s 15 constituencies vote  on Sunday, not just the fate of Marandi — contesting from Giridih — but also of his party could be sealed. No one looking at his party now would be able to guess that the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), formed in 2006 after Marandi quit the BJP, had emerged with 11 MLAs and a high vote share of 28.4 per cent in the 2009 elections. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Marandi became so confident that he went up against Shibu Soren in Dumka.

The idea was to hit the JMM at its weakest and replace it with the JVM-P. In the end, Hemant Soren’s tactics worked in Dumka: father Shibu Soren won, cementing the CM’s role within his party, while Marandi came third.

It was widely expected that the JMM would split after the Lok Sabha elections, but it was the JVM-P’s neck the BJP went for. Seven legislators, led by Bokaro MLA Samaresh Singh, left to join the BJP; another went to the JMM. Although Singh didn’t get a ticket this time, the BJP gave tickets to six others who switched from JVM-P.

Marandi has fielded candidates in 71 of the 81 seats. The fourth phase is most crucial: five of his 2009 candidates, all since defected, won here. JVM-P had come second in five other seats. Marandi, who contested from Dhanwar, is also contesting from Giridih. He is pitted against a tough rival — BJP’s Nirbhay Kumar Shahabadi, a JVM-P MLA who defected.

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