Ranchi: Veteran tribal leader and two-time JMM parliamentarian Hemlal Murmu, who faced two consecutive defeats since joining the BJP a month before the 2014 general elections, would be the BJP candidate for the Littipara bye-poll.
At least eight candidates bought nomination papers on Monday. Former Littipara MLA Simon Marandi, deceased Littipara legislator’s widow Uriti Hansda, former Congress leader Shivcharan Malto and BJP’s Murmu were among the eight who bought the nomination papers on the second last day of filing nomination.
Murmu, who served the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) for over a decade, was said to be second to only to JMM supremo Sibu Soren in terms of popularity in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand, while he was associated with the regional party.
However, his popularity failed to influence the voters twice in the Santhal Pargana – a JMM stronghold since he joined the BJP.
Murmu contested the Rajmahal Lok Sabha seat as a turncoat for the first time in 2014 and lost to JMM’s Vijay Hansda. He was again fielded as the Barhait candidate for assembly elections in the same year, but couldn’t taste victory against former CM and JMM candidate Hemant Soren.
The party, however, has backed the four-time Barhait MLA and former minister for the third time since 2014 and is hopeful of a victory at Littipara.
“It is confirmed that Murmuji will contest the bye-poll. Our objective would be to make the voters understand the benefits of having a legislator from the party, which rules in the state as well as at the Centre,” said Pratul Shahdeo, spokesperson, BJP Jharkhand.
Besides, the party will also try and cash-in on the various state and Central welfare schemes launched since 2014, he said.
Meanwhile, Simon Marandi had lost the Littipara seat on a BJP ticket in 2014. He and Congress’s Shivcharan Malto may contest the seat as independent candidates.
The scheduled tribe (ST) reserved seat went vacant after the death of JMM legislator Dr. Anil Murmu in January this year.
The last date for filing nomination is March 21. Voting will take place on April 9 with counting on April 13.