Five-time BJP MP Ravindra Kumar Pandey has asked the BJP to review its decision to give Giridih Lok Sabha seat to ally All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU). Pandey has won from Giridih since 1996, barring once in 2004.
“The party has sacrificed me… this is the reward they have given me for my unquestioning loyalty. It will have a cascading effect… Through the media, I want to request the BJP leadership to review its decision. Abhi bhi kuchch bigda nahin hai (The damage has not been done yet),” Pandey said.
Announcing the alliance on March 9, the BJP had said it would contest 13 seats, leaving one for the AJSU. The AJSU was said to have been keen on both Hazaribagh and Giridih. Pandey had won Giridih in 2014 with 3.91 lakh votes, closely followed by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s (JMM) Jagarnath Mahto. AJSU candidate Umesh Chandra Mehta had polled 55,531 votes.
Both the JMM and AJSU claim influence among the Kurmis, an OBC community that has its base in Giridih. The BJP’s decision to give Giridih to the AJSU may have been prompted by its hopes to consolidate the Kurmi votes. Though the BJP and AJSU fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections separately, they fought the Assembly elections in an alliance.
While BJP Giridih president Sunil Kumar Aggarwal indicated the central leadership may review its decision, BJP MP from Koderma and former president of the party’s state unit Ravindra Kumar Ray said it was “still not clear” if Giridih had gone to the AJSU. “It will be unwise to give this seat away.”
AJSU spokesperson Deosharan Bhagat said, “We had a meeting with booth-level workers and based on the feedback collected, decided to contest from Giridih.”
Six Assembly seats fall under Giridih parliamentary constituency — Dumri, Gomia, Bermo, Tundi, Giridih and Baghmara. AJSU had won from Tundi in the 2014 Assembly elections and lost by a thin margin, the 2018 Gomia Assembly bypoll, which was necessitated following the conviction of sitting JMM legislator Yogendra Prasad Mahto in a coal theft case. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Babita Devi had won and AJSU’s Lambodar Mahto lost by 1,300 votes. In other seats: JMM won from Dumri, Congress from Bermo and the BJP from Baghmara and Giridih.