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Soren holds the key to battle in Jharkhand

One could try and predict the outcome of the general elections in Jharkhand, if one could read JMM leader Sibu Soren's mind.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2004 20:07 IST

One could try and predict the outcome of the general elections in Jharkhand, if one could read JMM leader Sibu Soren's mind. The BJP tried it and failed. The Congress is still trying hard. Only Laloo Yadav seems to have unbundled him. And he is keeping mum at the moment.

A lot depends on this man, the lone representative of his party in the dissolved Parliament.

The Congress, JMM and the RJD have 31 assembly seats in the 82-member House. They will have to unite to wrest the initiative from the BJP, which they conceded in 1999.

Yadav is on stronger ground, but the other two parties need to strike a deal. But their negotiations seem to be coming unstuck.

However, the fact that the RJD and JMM did take a stab at fighting all the 14 seats in the state seems to have rekindled the Congress’s interest in negotiations. Rajmahal in the Santhal Parganas and Koderma, both represented by Congress, continue to be the bones of contention. JMM claims them, but in the absence of an agreement it dares the Congress to friendly contests.

Rajmahal and Koderma incidentally are BJP's stumbling block as well. Union minister Karia Munda and CM Arjun Munda’s group would like former CM Babulal Marandi to take on Sibu Soren in Dumka, which Marandi has refused to do. Differences between Marandi and Munda on candidates for Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, Palamu and Chaibasa remain.

With the JD-U putting up Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari for Chatra, where BJP stalwarts oppose him, the NDA also seems to have its hands full.

Adivasi groups led by the Jharkhand Vikas Party of Suraj Mandal, the Jharkhand Disom Party led by Salkhan Murmu, BJP MP from Orissa’s Mayurbhanj, could make a difference. But there is no sign of a purely Adivasi-Moolvasi (original settlers) front opposed to both the Congress and the BJP.

First Published: Mar 20, 2004 20:07 IST