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Oppn plans to upset Sinha's applecart

CPI leader Bhubaneswar Mehta is giving a tough fight in a straight contest with BJP nominee Yashwant Sinha for Hazaribag seat.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Ranchi
UPDATED ON APR 16, 2004 05:44 PM IST

Backed by all major political parties, former MP and CPI leader Bhubaneswar Prasad Mehta is giving a tough fight in a straight contest with BJP nominee and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha for Hazaribag Lok Sabha seat.

Seen as one of the toughest fights among the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, activists of the JMM, RJD and Congress, besides other small parties are working overtime to upset Sinha's applecart.

JMM chief Sibu Soren claims there would be a repeat of Poreyahat assembly by-poll when the Opposition-supported Prasant Mandal of the JMM defeated the BJP nominee hands down recently.

The entire Opposition are giving extra time on the constituency, Mehta, who joined the CPI in 1966, says "I feel honoured", and expresses gratitude to the Opposition's whole hearted support.

Alleging that the NDA government both at the Centre and the state has failed to live up to the people's expectations, Mehta says the labour force are against the BJP this time as many industries had been closed.

Countering Sinha's claims of pumping in crore of rupees in the development of Hazaribag and that no other MP ever spent that much amount, Mehta says the money has been spent only on laying foundations.
 
"Sinha does not understand the needs of the common people," says Mehta.

Claiming that during his 40 years of political life he has fought against exploitation and zamindari system, he said during his mp stint he had opened eight colleges and over 30 high schools.

Expecting to gain from BJP's alleged infighting which came to fore when former MP and senior BJP leader Mahaveerlal Vishwakarma threw his hat into the ring,  leading to his expulsion, Mehta says "the two are fighting for the second slot".

While Mehta is depending on three lakh Shukhiar and other backward caste votes, Sinha has made dent in the Muslim pockets, claim poll observers. 

Sinha is also focusing on women voters who are turning out in large numbers in his poll meetings which have been addressed by personalities like Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, BJP president Venkaih Naidu and film personalities like Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha.

Even people of Lupung, native village of Mehta, have showed interest in Sinha's poll meetings, say the observers.

On the other hand, besides Soren, CPI leader AB Bardhan and some state leaders, no leader of national stature is yet to make a round to Hazaribag for Mehta, who had won the seat in 1991.

In a significant development, the Hazaribag district administration has filed FIR against Mehta, rebel BJP candidate Maharirlal Vishwakarma while the Ranchi district administration had earlier filed FIR against Sinha in connection with alleged flouting of model code of conduct.

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