The Election Commission of India has announced April 9 to hold assembly bye-poll for the scheduled tribe (ST) reserved Litipara seat which went vacant after the death of JMM legislator Dr Anil Murmu in January this year.
The election notification will be issued on March 14 and the last date for filing nomination is March 21. Voting will take place on April 9 with counting on April 13. The model code of conduct has come into effect in the district of Pakur under which Litipara seat falls.
With the announcement of poll dates, political parties, including the ruling BJP having 43 seats in the 81-member house have geared up to increase their tally in the Jharkhand assembly. Litipara assembly constituency in Santhal Pargana region is considered to be a JMM bastion with the party registering three consecutive win in 2005, 2009 and 2014 assembly polls.
The BJP in 2014 assembly polls had contested Litipara assembly seat fielding a turncoat candidate Simon Marandi, an old JMM stalwart. The then legislator Simon Marandi had resigned from JMM to join the BJP just before the election but failed to make it to assembly in 2014. Marandi later resigned from the party finding a bleak future in the BJP.
Political pundits, however, opined that the BJP has nothing to lose as the said constituency had always been a JMM bastion and the saffron brigade has never won the seat in independent India.
Sources in the BJP said that with the demise of JMM legislator Dr Anil Murmu, the party could field his widow. “Murmu’s wife would have sympathy votes as happened in two bye bolls--Godda and Panki--held last year in Jharkhand that had witnessed victory of the sons of deceased legislators of the respective constituencies,” sources said. Moreover, the party hopes that it would gain on account of its development policies and growing popularity.
On the other hand, the JMM is reportedly desperate to launch party’s patriarch Sibu Soren’s younger son Basant Soren in active politics. The party, however, had failed to secure a win for him in 2016 Rajya Sabha polls. “The JMM in all likelihood would not lose this chance as the stage is perfectly set for launching Basant,” political pundits said.
They, however, see Simon Marandi, a leader with a strong influence on voters, as another factor who can change the result. Marandi too wanted to launch his son Dinesh William Marandi into politics and therefore grapevine is rife that the latter may join the Congress or the JVM (P). William may contest the election as an independent candidate. If this happens, the BJP is likely to gain due to split in votes between JMM candidate and Marandi.
“We have sought feedback from senior leaders of the region to zero in on a suitable candidate for the bye-poll,” said state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat.