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No consensus on candidate against Jharkhand CM

Opposition parties' week-long move to put up a consensus candidate against the Chief Minister Arjun Munda in Kharsawan (ST) assembly by-poll shattered on Saturday after three candidates, representing different opposition parties filed nomination papers, making the by-election a likely cakewalk for Munda.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2011 17:18 IST
Madan Kumar

Opposition parties' week-long move to put up a consensus candidate against the Chief Minister Arjun Munda in Kharsawan (ST) assembly by-poll shattered on Saturday after three candidates, representing different opposition parties filed nomination papers, making the by-election a likely cakewalk for Munda.

While Dashrath Gagrai alias Krishna Gagrai filed nomination as the nominee of Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Ex MLA Suraj Singh Besra filed papers as the official candidate of Jharkhand People's Party (JPP). Similarly, another ex-MLA Bahadur Oraon filed nomination as candidate of the CPI-ML.

Besides these three party nominees, three more persons filed nominations on Saturday as independent candidates for Kharsawan by-election, polling for which is slated on February 10. The three independents are Kande Ram Kurli, Mangal Singh Jamuda and Hari Oraon.

Altogether six nominations were filed on Saturday. So far, nominations papers have been filed by a total of seven candidates including the CM Arjun Munda who filed his papers on January 19.

Munda is contesting the by-election to retain the post of chief minister. Munda, presently a Lok Sabha member from Jamshedpur, took oath as chief minister on September 11. In view of the constitutional requirement, Munda is required to become a member of the state legislative assembly on or before March 10 this year, if he wants to retain the post of CM.

The JVM (P) candidate Krishna Gagrai reached Seraikela, about 40 km from here, along with his party president and former CM Babula Marandi and filed nomination before the returning officer C K Singh. After filing nomination, the JVM leaders went to Kharsawan and held a public meeting there. Since Congress has announced to support Gagrai, several Congress leaders also addressed the meeting and urged the voters to support the JVM (P) nominee in the by-election and repeat Tamar by-election, where the then CM Sibu Soren was defeated by a young Raja Peter.

The JPP candidate Besra, who has support of the National Jharkhandi Alliance (NJA), an umbrella organization of six regional parties, however, is still hopeful of being the “consensus” candidate of opposition parties. After filing his nomination papers, Besra told Hindustan Times that he was going to Kharsawan to hold a talk with Marandi for withdrawing the JVM (P) candidate in the larger interest of the state. Besra said, Marandi should withdraw his candidate and support him as only consensus candidate from the opposition. But the JVM (P) leaders are not ready to withdraw its candidate. “Besra himself should withdraw from the fray to ensure a tough contest against Munda,” said the JVM (P) legislator Arvind Kumar Singh. The CPI-ML out rightly rejected to withdraw its candidate.
The by election for the seat was necessitated after BJP MLA Mangal Singh Soy resigned on November 30 to pave way for the chief minister to contest from the seat.

Munda has represented Kharsawan seat thrice in 1995, 2000 and 2005 and enjoys a massive support base in the constituency. In 2009, Munda got elected for the Lok Sabha from Jamshedpur seat and in his place the party fielded Mangal Singh Soy, who won the assembly polls in 2010 by a huge margin with the blessings of Munda. When Munda became chief minister in September last and was looking for a seat to enter the state assembly, Soy resigned on November 30 to pave way for his mentor.

As per the Election Commission's schedule, nominations for Kharsawan by-poll could be filed till January 24. Scrutiny of papers would be done on January 25, while the last date for withdrawal of nomination is January 27. Counting of votes will be held on February 17.