BJP woos Marandi to offset NDA rebels
After engaging former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa to lure him back into the BJP, the party now wants Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) leader Babulal Marandi to consider returning to the saffron fold to brighten their prospects for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
BJP sources said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had established contact with Marandi when he was in the national capital for attending a parliamentary board meeting earlier this month. The party is also believed to have opened a dialogue with the JVM leader but sources are not willing to either identify the pointman for reaching out to Marandi or the regional outfit’s response to backroom engagements.
BJP sources said that Modi, head of the party’s election campaign committee, spoke to Marandi, convincing him to join BJP which will help both jointly fight against an alliance Congress has stitched with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha for twin purposes - form the government in the state as well as exploit Shibu Soren’s tribal credentials in other states such as Chhattisgarh which has considerable influence of the community in some pockets – one of them being Bastar region with 14 assembly seats.
Party leaders have not given up hope of coming together since JVM had turned down a similar offer of the Congress which was hunting for alliance partner prior to selecting JMM. The state elects 12 members to the Lok Sabha and 81 to legislative assembly.
To avoid friendly fight that ends up damaging poll prospects as encountered recently during the Karnataka assembly polls, the BJP is trying to woo back their previous state leaders who had quit the party to raise their own regional outfits to consolidate the base and reverse the impact of partners walking out of the NDA – last one was Janata Dal (United).
Prior to JD(U), JMM had aborted the alliance with the BJP at the state level.JMM was sharing power in the state along with the BJP but the two fell apart on what the regional party charged as the right wing organisation’s failure to obey coalition ‘dharma’ of handing over the baton to their leader Shibu Soren after completing half of the term. The JVM has 11 MLAs in the assembly and two MPs in the Lok Sabha, including Marandi who represents Kodarma constituency.