By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, (IANS) The May 3 poll for two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand is casting its shadow on the stability of the Arjun Munda-led government.
The two ruling coalition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), are making last ditch efforts to garner support for their respective candidates. The JMM has issued veiled threats about the stability of the state government in a bid to put pressure on the BJP to support JMM candidate Sanjiv Kumkar. The JMM wants the BJP to withdraw its candidate S.S. Ahuwalia from the election to the upper house of parliament.
Apparently to highlight his party’s displeasure, Deputy Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren Monday did not go to New Delhi to meet BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who had convened a meeting of alliance partners to discuss the strategy for the Rajya Sabha poll.
Another ruling partner, All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) also did not attend Gadkari’s meeting in New Delhi. Only Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda met Gadkari alone in New Delhi, and according to sources, discussed the poll and its likely impact on the state government.
“We are busy in party meetings here. What was the need to go to New Delhi when the BJP has not withdrawn its candidate? We cannot face humiliation,” Hemant Soren told reporters here Tuesday.
Asked about the fate of the state government, he said: “JMM chief Shibu Soren has been authorised to take any decision.” Hemant in his letter to Gadkari last month had sought the BJP’s support for its candidate in the Rajya Sabha poll.
The March 30 Rajya Sabha poll was countermanded after Rs.2.15 crore in cash was seized from the vehicle of a relative of an independent candidate.
The BJP, which had initially decided to stay away from the March 30 poll, had backtracked and voted in favour of the JMM candidate. The JMM wants the BJP to vote for its candidate this time too.
Three candidates are in the poll fray for the two Rajya Sabha seats this time – S.S. Ahuwalia of the BJP, Sanjiv Kumkar of the JMM and Pradep Balmuchu of the Congress.
The second main opposition party, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantantrik (JVM-P), which has 11 legislators, has announced it will stay away from the poll. The Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav, which has five legislators, has announced it will support the Congress.
In the 81-member house, both the BJP and the JMM have 18 legislators each. The AJSU, JD-U and the Congress have 5, 2 and 13 legislators respectively and the rest are independents.
The Congress is claiming support of 23 legislators, including five independent legislators.
In the ruling alliance, the BJP and JD-U together have 20 legislators. The AJSU, which has key to sending any of the alliance partner candidate to the Rajya Sabha, has yet to reveal its cards.
“Let the big parties settle the issue first, then we will decide,” Deputy Chief Minister and AJSU president Sudesh Mahto told reporters. According to sources, the JMM has sought AJSU support in the Rajya Sabha poll and in exchange it will support AJSU candidate in the Hatia by-poll to the state assembly scheduled for June 15.