A two-time legislator joined the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Monday, raising the stakes in the ruling party’s game of attrition with the BJP to lure fence-sitters and turncoats ahead of the assembly elections.
Over the past couple of months, the two major parties have seen an exodus of several top leaders from various parties to their camps, indicating that the forthcoming elections could be a direct fight between the JMM and BJP.
Though the JMM leads the ruling alliance with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), it has 15 MLAs, two less than the BJP’s 17.
The BJP is hoping to replicate its spectacular show in the last Lok Sabha elections -- when in won ….out of 14 seats – in the assembly polls, like to be held by the year-end.
Jobha Majhi, who joined the JMM on Monday, is a two-time legislator from Manoharpur and the widow of JMM founding member Devendra Majhi.
Majhi’s late husband had formed the JMM-Democratic after parting ways with the regional party over differences with the leadership. He had later aligned with Tripura’s Indigenous People’s Party and was elected to the assembly twice.
The joining of Jobha Majhi – described by JMM leaders as a “home-coming – is a big boost to the party in the Kolhan region which once was its bastion.
However, the emergence and spectacular rise of former chief minister Arjun Munda had gradually led to the JMM losing ground in Kolhan which sends 14 MLAs to the 81-member assembly.
Majhi is the fourth tribal political heavyweight from Kolhan who has selected JMM over the BJP. Others who have joined the party are ex-Chaibasa legislator Heebar Gudia, ex-Chakradharpur MLA Bahadur Oroan and ex-Jagannathpur legislator Mangal Singh Bobonga.
Gudia, Oraon and Bobonga had their roots in JMM but parted ways over differences with party leaders and joined rival camps.
A fortnight back, a JVM-P legislator from Rajdhanwar Nizamuddin Ansari too had joined JMM.
However, JMM legislator from Baharagora Vidhyut Mahato joined the BJP in March and went on to win the general elections from Jamshedpur.
JMM leaders, however, described Mahato’s desertion as a minor aberration.
“JMM will emerge mightier than ever before,” party spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said.
Though the party was keen on an alliance with “secular forces”, the party is unlikely to contest less than 50 seats to give it a chance of getting to the magical number of 42 needed to form the government on its own.
Sources said a majority of party leaders have even advocated going alone in the polls which they feel would pay “richer dividends”.