He is unhappy as the announcement of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ was made ‘unilaterally’, without his consultation.


New Delhi: Hours after the Congress announced a “Mahagathbandhan” with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) for contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi has struck a discordant note over the Godda constituency.

Sources said JVM president Marandi is unhappy as the announcement of the “Mahagathbandhan” was made “unilaterally” and without his consultation. Following Marandi’s displeasure, efforts have intensified to placate him. Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahai held a closed door meeting with Marandi in Ranchi in order to persuade him to come on board. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel spoke to Marandi, while AICC in-charge of Jharkhand, R.P.N. Singh will be reaching Ranchi on 12 February to hold negotiations with him.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Marandi said: “We want three seats—Godda, Koderma and Chatra—but we have got only two. We have conveyed our feelings to Congress and JMM leaders. There may be different views, but we all need to be united to take on the BJP. Seats should not be distributed keeping personalities in mind. If we form the alliance for keeping UPA leaders happy, then BJP leaders will also be happy. We will not be able to check BJP in that situation. Instead of number (of seats), we should talk on the winnability.”

Marandi also said that the issue of who the chief ministerial candidate would be in the Assembly elections should be decided only after these are announced. Interestingly, Congress leaders have been saying that Hemant Soren would be projected as the CM candidate for the Assembly elections. Sources said that the Godda seat had become a bone of contention. They said senior JVM leader Pradeep Yadav was hell bent on contesting from Godda, but the Congress was insisting on fielding Furkan Ansari, who was the runner-up in the last Lok Sabha elections.

Not only JVM, but the RJD is also unhappy with the seat-sharing formula. The party wanted Chatra and Palamau, but has been given only Chatra.

When contacted, Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Alok Dubey said talks were going on with the alliance leaders and all the issues would be resolved very soon. “There are some minor issues. But we hope that all those issues will be resolved amicably through negotiations,” he said.

The deal was finalised after Hemant Soren met Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the capital this week. Accordingly, in the Lok Sabha elections, Congress will contest seven seats, JMM four, Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) two and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) one seat.

As per the deal, while Congress will lead the alliance, pitched as the “Mahagathbandhan”, in the Lok Sabha elections, the JMM will be leading it in the Assembly elections, with Hemant Soren being projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate. There are 14 Lok Sabha seats and 81 Assembly seats in Jharkhand. Though Assembly elections are due this year-end, there is speculation that both the elections may be held simultaneously.

In the Assembly elections, JMM is likely to contest on 35-36 seats, Congress on 22-25 seats, JVM 14-15 seats and RJD on six. The remaining seats have been kept “reserved” for the time being. Parties will get all the sitting seats and also the seats, whether they got second position in the last elections, as per the formula.

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