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DUMKA

Shibu Soren's political battlefield, the seat has been under Soren's influence over more than a decade.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2004 15:25 IST

Nestled in the Vindhya hills of Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand, this ST constituency has been in focus for decades, primarily for two reasons -- Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren and his adversary and former CM Babulal Marandi.

Soren or 'Guruji' had won the seat in 2002 bye poll. Marandi defeated Soren's wife Rupi in the 1999 elections while he had drubbed Soren himself in 1998, although with a narrow margin of 13,000 votes.

However, the seat has generally been under Soren's influence over more than a decade. Soren was elected to Lok Sabha in 1989 and 1991 1996 before winning again in 2002 from here. In the JMM-S's heyday in 1991 he had lost the election by 143,000 votes.

Soren, who once was like a messiah for the locals because of his dedicated struggle against evils of money lending and bootlegging, still weilds considerable influence in the area. And with Bihar CM projecting him as next Jharkhand CM, the battle is set to be high-profile once again. Marandi and BJP will of course be crucial hurdles to cross.

BJP had made a historical entry into this tribal region in 1998 by winning all its three seats -- Babulal Marandi defeated Shibu Soren, Jagdambi Yadav defeated JMM vice-president Suraj Mandal in Godda and Seth Hembrom vanquished JMM spokesman Simon Marandi -- and it is unlikely to relinquish the advantage that soon.