Left in the lurch when his Rajya Sabha term ended in March, the BJP’s SS Ahluwalia is back in the reckoning, as his party finally decided on Thursday to field him for the May 3 poll from Jharkhand.
Ahluwalia, the BJP’s former deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, first lost out to Dharmendra Pradhan from Bihar, and then to controversial businessman Anshuman Mishra from Jharkhand, where his party did not have enough MLAs to ensure a victory on its own.
Ahluwalia, in his farewell speech at a party meet, even suggested obliquely that he had been left in the lurch.
But the BJP’s plans to back Mishra backfired when he launched a scathing attack on BJP leaders after Yashwant Sinha blocked his entry. Finally, Mishra had to be silenced by a legal notice.
Now, the final nod to Ahluwalia means that the party may be headed for a fight with ally JMM for the two RS seats from Jharkhand, as the JMM, too, has announced the candidature of lawyer Sanjeev Kumar.
By the time the EC cancelled the Jharkhand poll on March 30 after the seizure of Rs. 2.15 crore from a car, the BJP had decided to back the JMM candidate after the Mishra fiasco.
The U-turn now adds a fresh dimension to the poll. The BJP and JMM have 18 MLAs each and the magic number for a candidate to win is 27. BJP state chief Dineshanand Goswami said the party would talk to its allies — JMM, AJSU, which has five MLAs, and JD(U), which has two legislators — to enlist their support.
He also said there was hope that the JMM could be brought on board.
Though the JMM voiced a conciliatory tone, it showed no signs of withdrawing. Agencies quoted JMM spokesperson Suprio Bhattacharya as saying, “The alliance is in a position to win both the seats.”