Jharkhand parties banking on turncoats

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS,

Ranchi : Most political parties in Jharkhand, led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), are banking on turncoats instead of their loyalists to win the Lok Sabha polls.

Support TwoCircles

The RJD – snubbed by the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) over seat sharing as reprisal for events in Bihar – decided to fight the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Jharkhand, the RJD is contesting six and the LJP five.

In all, nearly 20 candidates fielded by various parties are turncoats. Political analysts say some of them have strong chances of winning the elections.

Of the six RJD candidates, four joined the party because they were not given the ticket by the parties in which they were members earlier.

“We have gone for a winning combination. The LJP-RJD combination will have a good presence in the state. We have chosen candidates based on their background and potential to win. It doesn’t matter whether they originally belonged to the party or not,” Gautam Sagar Rana, state RJD president, told IANS.

The RJD has two sitting MPs in Chatra and Palamau. While it has denied the ticket to Chatra MP Dhirendra Agrawal, Palamau’s Bhuran Ram has been renominated. In Chatra, the party has nominated Nagmani for the polls.

Nagmani, a former minister in the Bihar cabinet and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator, has a history of changing political parties. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, he won from Chatra on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket. After losing the 2004 polls, he joined the JD-U in Bihar. He has now switched to the RJD in Jharkhand, a state that was carved out of Bihar in 2000.

The RJD has nominated Thomas Hansda for the Rajmahal Lok Sabha seat. Hansda is a Congress legislator and was unhappy as the Rajmahal seat went to the JMM in seat sharing. He quit the Congress and joined the RJD and succeeded in getting nomination.

In Koderma, the RJD has fielded Pranav Verma who was a BJP member till last month. He also fought the Koderma byelection in 2006 on the BJP ticket but was beaten by independent candidate Babulal Marandi.

Rajesh Tudu, a Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) leader, also switched loyalties to the RJD and was nominated for the Dumka seat.

The JD-U, which was insisting on fighting six Lok sabha seats, got only two after the seat sharing with the BJP. The two seats conceded to the JD-U are Palamau and Chatra.

The JD-U wanted former assembly speaker and independent legislator Inder Singh Namdhari to return to the party fold. Namdhari had quit the JD-U in 2006. But when it failed to convince Namdhari, it poached the BJP’s Chatra deputy president Arun Yadav. He has now been nominated for the seat.

State LJP president Hidyatullah has joined the Congress with his supporters, while the JMM has fielded former BJP legislator Vishnu Bhaiya from Koderma.

The JVM-P of former chief minister Babulal Marandi has fielded Pradeep Yadav – who was a BJP legislator – for the Godda Lok Sabha seat. The party has also poached former BJP legislator Arvind Singh and fielded him from Jamshedpur.

“The JVM-P is a new political party. People who are interested in the development of the state but are feeling suffocated in other political parties are joining us. We have given the ticket only to those candidates who are dedicated to the party,” Marandi told IANS.

Jharkhand goes to the polls April 16 and 23.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at [email protected])