Jharkhand polls: Congress may play second fiddle to JMM

Jharkhand polls: Congress may play second fiddle to JMM

 Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren. (PTI File Photo)

Having faced a drubbing during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, the Congress is likely to play second fiddle to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) when polls are held in the tribal-dominated state in November-December this year.

Highly placed sources in the Congress told DH on Wednesday that the grand old party may project the working president of the JMM, Hemant Soren, as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate next month.

Soren, son of JMM supremo Shibu Soren, is presently Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly and had earlier served as chief minister of Jharkhand before the BJP stormed to power in December 2014. “Rahul Gandhi had earlier approved the plan to project Hemant as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate. However, a formal announcement in this regard will be shortly made by former Union minister and in-charge of Jharkhand Affairs, R P N Singh,” the Congress MP said.

According to sources in the Election Commission, Assembly polls in Jharkhand are slated to be held in multiple phases from November-end to December third week. “An Election Commission team will visit Ranchi on October 17 (Thursday) to take stock of the poll preparedness. It is expected that once the Assembly election results for Maharashtra and Haryana are declared on October 24, the Election Commission may soon announce the poll schedule for the Maoist-infested state,” the source told DH on Wednesday.

The BJP had swept the December 2014 Assembly elections winning 43 seats out of m1 Assembly constituencies in the state. This included six MLAs from former chief minister Babulal Marandi’s party Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) who joined the BJP soon after the Assembly polls. This was one reason why Jharkhand, since its inception in November 2000, saw its first stable government (headed by Raghubar Das) which completed its five-year term.

The JMM, however, has 19 MLAs while Congress has eight legislators in the present Assembly.