Marandi rejoins BJP to revive its fortune in J’khand

Babulal Marandi rejoins BJP with aim to revive its fortune in Jharkhand

Former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi (L) greets Union Minister Amit Shah during the merger of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), at an event, in Ranchi, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Nearly 14 years after he left the BJP, former Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Babulal Marandi, on Monday re-joined his parent organisation. His party Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) merged with the BJP at a function organised in Ranchi where Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda were also present.

Marandi, who was sworn in as Jharkhand’s first Chief Minister in November 2000, soon after the bifurcation of Bihar, had to resign as CM in 2003. In 2004, he won the Lok Sabha election from Koderma in Jharkhand, but resigned from the LS seat in 2006 after he quit the BJP. Later, he contested as an Independent and retained his seat. In 2009 too, he won the Koderma parliamentary seat. But it was in May 2014, when he was wiped out in Modi wave. Such was the BJP Tsunami then, that he lost both the Assembly seats which he had contested in December 2014.

During 2019 Jharkhand Assembly polls, his party JVM contested on all the 81 seats but could scrape through in merely three seats, including his own constituency Raj-Dhanwar. In the meantime, the BJP, which ruled Jharkhand for nearly 15 years out of 20 years of its existence, fared miserably in December 2019 elections. Its Chief Minister Raghubar Das himself lost from Jamshedpur. Das, a non-tribal, was also charged with antagonising tribals in a State where there are around 28 per cent Scheduled Tribes (STs).

It was then that the BJP started looking for a credible tribal face who could help revive BJP’s sagging fortunes. It was against this background that the saffron camp, through its other tribal face and Union Minister Arjun Munda, began backroom negotiations for ‘ghar wapsi’ of Marandi.

PAST PERFECT

Before becoming Jharkhand CM in November 2000, Marandi had hit the national headlines in the 90s after he defeated JMM patriarch Shibu Soren from Dumka and became Minister of State for Forest and Environment in the Vajpayee Government in 1999.

“Today, it’s like home-coming. I will welcome any new role the party assigns me to strengthen the organisation,” said Marandi, soon after re-joining the BJP in Ranchi on Monday.

THREE OPTIONS

Sources close to him told Deccan Herald on Monday that he has been offered three options. First, join the Modi Cabinet. Second, become Jharkhand BJP chief and strengthen the party. Third, become leader of the BJP Legislature Party (BJPLP) in the Assembly and function as Leader of the Opposition. 

“His new role will be announced soon,” the source, close to Marandi, said.

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