HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Loyalists seek divine help for Ranchi MP

B Vijay Murty and Sanjoy Dey  RANCHI, March 11, 2014
First Published: 16:13 IST(11/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:24 IST(11/3/2014)

The suspense over Congress’ decision to replace sitting MP and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahai with a fresh face in Ranchi continued on Monday causing distress and anguish among his  supporters, some of whom that took to temples and mosques seeking divine support to cement their leader’s candidature.

In Delhi to counter any such action by the party leadership, Sahai called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi along with his supporters on Monday afternoon and apparently tried his best to convince her that the party would lose the seat if he is replaced.

Later, speaking to Hindustan Times, Sahai said that emotions are flaring among Congress workers in Ranchi because he has been so well connected with them emotionally and physically in their happiness and sorrows.

“Congress workers and voters in Ranchi would vouch for the kind of work I have done for the people there. For the last several months I have been frequenting every locality, lane and by-lane of Ranchi constituency, meeting people and addressing their  problems. There is no reason why I should be replaced,” he said.

The party has already released names of candidates for six out of the eight constituencies it would be contesting in Jharkhand.

Sahai said the list of candidates for the remaining seats would be announced on March 12.

Problems began for Sahai on Sunday when reports emanated from the Congress headquarters in Delhi over the possibility of fielding a new face from Ranchi.

Among the probable were ex-cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, film stars Raj Babbar and Nagma and veteran Congress leader Gopal Sahu. Insiders said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was cut up with Sahai and does not want to repeat him.

Few of Sahai’s decision, particularly his decision to field his younger brother Sunil Sahai for the Hatia by-poll where the latter lost miserably, has not gone down well with the Congress leadership.

Sahai’s name was also indirectly linked to the multi-crore coal scam.

“There are scores of leaders in Congress who have the potential to win the Ranchi seat. Being the capital, the constituency is also attracting outsiders. Sahai’s candidature is pending. A final call will be taken on Wednesday at Delhi,” Pradesh Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat said.

Special prayers

Several Congress workers on Monday offered prayers at the Pahari temple here seeking divine help for Sahai’s candidature.

Led by Sahai’s close associate Deepak Lal, the Congress workers offered water and milk at the Shiva lingam and chanted hymns. “It would be a disaster for the party, if it replaces Sahai,” another loyalist Aditya Vikram Jaiswal said.

Facebook campaign

While more than 70 Congress leaders drawn from blocks and districts are camping in Delhi to lobby for Sahai, distressed Congress workers in Ranchi also took to Facebook and Twitter to spread the message that Sahai is the best candidate for Ranchi.

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