Jharkhand UPA falls apart, NDA may follow suit

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS,

Ranchi : Allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in Jharkhand are busy fielding candidates against each other in the Lok Sabha polls. And the rival National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state is not in good shape either.

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Earlier this month, the three constituents of the UPA – Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress – had agreed that they would field candidates from the respective seats held by them, accounting for 12 out of the state’s 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The two seats not held by the UPA – Hazaribagh and Koderma – were kept aside for a later decision. It was widely believed that the RJD would be given Koderma while Hazaribagh would go to the JMM.

But political developments in neighbouring Bihar – where the Congress on one hand and the RJD and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on the other have fielded candidates in 37 seats – have undone this understanding in Jharkhand.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad has said his party would fight in four seats and the LJP in five in Jharkhand. He also announced support to smaller parties in the other seats.

Lalu Prasad’s decision has irked the Congress, which Monday decided to field its candidates from the two seats where the RJD won in 2004. These are Palamau and Chatra.

“As the RJD has decided to field its candidates from other seats, we will also field candidates on both the seats,” said Kesav Rao, the Jharkhand in-charge of the Congress.

The Congress has also surprised the JMM by announcing a candidate for the Hazaribagh Lok Sabha seat, which it had earlier conceded to the JMM.

“We announced our candidate after taking JMM chief Shibu Soren into confidence. JMM will fight from the Koderma seat,” claimed Ravindra Singh, the Jharkhand Congress spokesperson.

JMM sources, however, said they would field candidates on both the Hazaribagh and Koderma seats.

In the present scenario, the Congress will fight nine, the JMM six, the RJD four and the LJP five seats. In at least five seats, the Congress will have a faceoff with the JMM, RJD or LJP candidates.

Durga Soren, the eldest son of Shibu Soren, has announced that JMM will fight on all the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the UPA bagged 12 of the 14 seats by fighting together. UPA’s prospects may suffer now due to bickering among the allies and candidates fielded against each other.

Even for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), all is not well in Jharkhand.

The BJP has conceded two seats – Chhatra and Palamau – to the Janata Dal-United (JD-U). More than 2,000 BJP workers had quit the party against the decision.

The BJP’s Satyanand Bhokta has announced he will not support JD-U candidate from Chhatra. He is likely to support independent candidate and former assembly speaker Inder Singh Namdhari from there.

Considering workers sentiment, BJP sources said the party may end up fielding candidates on both seats.

“The BJP is not supporting the JD-U from its heart and our party will not get benefit from the BJP in the election. BJP workers are against our candidates,” complained Jaleshwar Mahto, the state JD-U president.

Mahto himself wants to fight from the Dhanbad Lok Sabha seat, where the BJP has already announced its candidate, sources say.

Parliamentary polls will be held in the state April 16 and 23.