JMM, Cong announce three-party alliance
RANCHI: The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress on Friday announced that the two parties would contest the upcoming election for Jharkhand assembly in association with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The Babulal Marandi-led JVM (P) pulled out of the proposed opposition alliance earlier this week and said it would contest all 81 assembly seats.
The JVM (P)’s exit is blow for the alliance which was hoping to repeat the grouping in place during the summer’s Lok Sabha polls.
The Bharatiya Janata Partyled NDA won 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The Congress and the JMM announced that the leader of the opposition in the outgoing assembly, Hemant Soren of the JMM, will be projected as the alliance’s chief ministerial face.
However, questions remain about the RJD’s enthusiasm for the alliance after leader of opposition in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, did not join the press briefing addressed by JMM and Congress leaders at the press club here. Yadav did attend the meeting of the three alliance constituents held at the residence of Hemant Soren, ahead of the joint press conference, Congress and JMM leaders said.
Announcing the seat sharing arrangement in presence of JMM working president, Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Congress in-charge RPN Singh said the JMM would contest 43 of the 81 assembly seats, the Congress, 31 and the RJD, 7.
Singh also announced that Hemant Soren, a former chief minister, would be the chief ministerial face of the proposed opposition alliance.
The three parties decided not to partner with the Left parties. The earlier plan was to form a grand alliance that included these.
“We have put forth an alternative before the people to remove the BJP from power, irrespective of it being called an alliance or a grand alliance,” Singh told reporters, replying to question over reduction in number of the alliance partners as proposed earlier.
Defending the absence of RJD from the presser, Hemant Soren said talks are still on with the RJD leadership and everything will fall in place soon.
“Many decisions are taken in the RJD after discussions with party president, Lalu Prasad, who is in jail . There are restrictions of him meeting outsiders. I have been in discussion with the RJD leadership on a regular basis. He is aware of the larger contours of the proposed alliance. He, however, had raised some issues, which I will be addressing at opportune time. Everything will be settled soon,” said Hemant.
On the issue of options still left for adjustment of few seats for the Left, Soren said “many such issues will be settled in due course”.
JMM members said Hemant Soren will be meeting incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Saturday---the dedicated day for Prasad to meet a maximum of three visitors.
His son, Tejashwi Yadav, however, met his father with special permission on Friday evening at RIMS, where the RJD chief is undergoing treatment,
Senior RJD leader Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, in-charge of Jharkhand, played down the absence of Yadav at the presser and said it would not affect the alliance.
“It is not a big issue. Yes, there are some issues over seat sharing of few seats. But we will sort them out in due course,” said Yadav.
On Thursday, after meeting Hemant Soren, Tejashwi Yadav confirmed that the RJD would be part of the alliance and contest under leadership of Soren.
On Friday evening after meeting his father, Lalu Prasad, at Ranchi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Yadav said the number of seats allocated to RJD was not a major issue and their aim was to unseat the BJP from power.
“I have informed the national president of the announcement made at the press conference. We will abide by whatever decision he takes,” Tejashwi said.
“It is unlikely that the RJD would stay away from the alliance as primary aim of Lalu Prasad at this stage is to remove BJP from power. However, keeping the Left out of the alliance would dent their prospects as parties like CPI, CPI (ML) and MCC have their pocket of influence, especially in North Chhotanagpur. With JMM and Congress having so many seats, they could easily accommodate the Left,” said LK Kundan, who teaches political science at Ranchi University.