Hemant Soren’s JMM stitches united front against BJP for Jharkhand bypolls
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) working president Hemant Soren has managed to rally all the major opposition parties in the state behind its candidates for the Silli and Gomia assembly bypolls on May 28, stitching a united front against the ruling BJP.
Soren’s alliance is bigger than the one put together by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav during the Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, when his party joined hands with arch-rival Bahujan Samaj Party to bring the saffron party down.
While the Congress fielded its own candidates from Gorakhpur and Phulpur in the Uttar Pradesh bypolls, the party has decided to throw its weight behind the JMM in Jharkhand. Others on Soren’s bandwagon are the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist).
However, the Jharkhand bypolls will be fought in slightly different circumstances. Unlike Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party wrested two saffron parliamentary strongholds from the BJP’s clutches, the JMM is fighting to retain assembly seats that belonged to its legislators before their disqualification.
“The parties have decided to support us because the JMM is best placed in the state to give the BJP a run for its money. We are confident of retaining both the Silli and Gomia seats,” said Soren.
The BJP, on the other hand, seems to be falling out with its allies. The All Jharkhand Student Union Party (AJSU) announced candidates from both the constituencies after a disagreement over sharing of seats, and is now gearing up to fight the saffron party in the bypolls. While AJSU supremo Sudesh Mahto will contest from Silli, the party has fielded former bureaucrat Lambodar Mahto from Gomia.
Although the BJP has decided to refrain from fielding a candidate against the the AJSU president, it will contest against Lambodar Mahto. “The central election committee will decide on our candidate for Gomia,” Deepak Prakash, general secretary of the BJP’s Jharkhand unit, said on Thursday.
Yogendra Mahto and Amit Mahto, the JMM legislators from Gomia and Silli, were disqualified from the assembly following their conviction in separate criminal cases earlier this year. The JMM on Friday announced that their wives will contest the bypolls.
Soren has been trying to weave an opposition alliance for the last few months, a process that began taking shape ahead of the biennial Rajya Sabha elections in March. The JMM offered to support the Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha election, and reciprocally ensured its support in the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
A party official said the presence of RJD chief Lalu Prasad in the Ranchi jail helped JMM leaders cobble up the alliance. “The leaders of all opposition parties – including the Congress, JVM(P) and JMM – have been meeting Laluji in jail as well as the Ranchi Institute of Medical Sciences (where the ailing leader has been admitted). All of them realise that joining hands is necessary if they want to defeat the BJP and stay relevant. The recent urban civic elections were a case in point,” he added.
The BJP managed to win 21 of 34 urban local bodies in the April polls, beating anti-incumbency at the central and state levels.