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Alliance experiment on test for BJP; Cong banks on turncoats in Jharkhand in 6th phase polls

All the four seats going to polls in Jharkhand in the sixth phase are currently held by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party

lok sabha elections Updated: May 12, 2019 09:31 IST
Vishal Kant
Vishal Kant
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Lok Sabha elections 2019,General elections 2019,Election news
BJP National President Amit Shah at an election meeting in Dhanbad on Wednesday. (ANI)

Over 6.5 million voters would exercise their franchise to choose their representative from among 67 candidates in four of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand on May 12 during the sixth phase of polling in the 2019 general elections.

Dhanbad and Giridh Lok Sabha seats in North Chhotangapur (also called Koylanchal) and Jamshedpur and Singhbhum in Kolhan division will go to polls on Sunday. Elections have been completed in seven seats of the state during the fourth and fifth phase of polling.

Read: Full coverage of Lok Sabha elections

All the four seats going to polls in the sixth phase are currently held by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. While the party has re-nominated three of its four sitting MPs from their respective seats, the BJP has given Giridh seat to its regional ally Ajsu party which is a coalition partner in the state government. The BJP is contesting 13 of the 14 constituencies in the state.

The decision to give Giridh to its ally had sent shock waves among the cadre as party MP Ravindra Pandey had won the seat for five consecutive terms, and Ajsu party led by former deputy-chief minister of the state Sudesh Mahto has never won a Lok Sabha seat.

Read: All you need to know about Jharkhand

In 2014, the Ajsu party candidate had received just over 50,000 votes. While the BJP contested 2014 assembly polls in a pre-poll alliance with Ajsu, the saffron party has allied with the party in Lok Sabha poll for the first time.

Outgoing MP Ravindra Pandey rebelled against the decision, but was placated by the party leadership later. Ajsu has fielded water resources minister CP Chaudhary from Giridh. There are 14 other candidates in the fray.

Also read: Congress will protect water forest, land of tribals: Rahul Gandhi

“This experiment poses risk both for the BJP and Ajsu. BJP cadre on the ground did not like the decision, because the Ajsu despite sharing power in the state has been very vocal in cornering the BJP on several issues. So it could have a bearing on the electoral outcome. For Ajsu, the result could have long lasting impact. If the Ajsu candidate loses, it will bring down its credibility in the state politics,” said LK Kundan, who teaches political science in Ranchi University.

In neighbouring Dhanbad, the Congress has fielded former cricketer and three-term MP from Darbhanga in Bihar, Kirti Azad, who recently joined the party from the BJP. In Singhbhum, reserved for scheduled tribes, the Congress has fielded another turncoat, Geeta Koda, MLA from Jagannathpur and wife of former tainted chief minister Madhu Koda, against BJP’s sitting MP and state unit president Laxman Gilua.

Read: Jharkhand CM shares poll strategy with party members in Jamshedpur

Madhu Koda recently merged his Jai Bharat Samanta Party with the Congress. “While fielding Koda is a good political move as the family enjoys sway in Singhbhum, it has taken a risk by fielding Azad in Dhanbad. Some of the strong local leaders are openly working against him,” said Kundan.

In Jamshedpur, the prime industrial city of the state, BJP candidate and sitting MP Bidyutbaran Mahto is locked in a direct fight with JMM veteran Champai Soren.

In the run up the polls, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed election rallies at the same venue in Chaibasa under Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat. The Congress chief also led a road show in Dhanbad.

First Published: May 11, 2019 19:31 IST