Jharkhand may witness triangular contest

The Congress, which has dropped ample hints of playing second fiddle to JMM, may project Hemant Soren, son of JMM chief Shibu Soren, who earlier served as CM, as the alliance Chief Ministerial candidate.

With the announcement of a five-phase poll schedule for the Jharkhand Assembly elections, the ball has been set rolling in the tribal-dominated State for a triangular contest.

While the ruling party BJP and its ally - the AJSU (All Jharkhand Students' Union) will make every effort to shore up its strength in the 81-member Assembly, it's equally likely that the NDA will face a formidable challenge from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Congress-led Opposition.

The contest is likely to become a triangular one after former Chief Minister of Jharkhand and president of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) Babulal Marandi indicated that he will not align with anyone - neither with the NDA nor the Mahagatbandhan.

The Congress, which has dropped ample hints of playing second fiddle to JMM, may project Hemant Soren, son of JMM chief Shibu Soren, who earlier served as CM, as the alliance Chief Ministerial candidate.

"Talks about seat-sharing between the Congress and the JMM are in the final stage. We are trying to rope in the RJD as well as the Left parties in the Mahagatbandhan," said Jharkhand Congress president Rameshwar Oraon, the IPS-turned-former MP.

Sources in the Congress said that Babulal Marandi decided to chalk out his independent path as he (being the first Chief Minister of Jharkhand) was not ready to work under the leadership of Hemant Soren, a much junior leader. However, the State Congress chief said he would make efforts to placate Marandi and bring him under the Mahagatbandhan umbrella so that the anti-BJP votes do not split.

Notably, this is the first time since Jharkhand was formed in November 2000, that a State Government is going to complete its full five-year term. Senior BJP leader and Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who split JVM to attain a majority in December 2014, is banking on the performance of his Government besides harping on Narendra Modi's credentials.

During the May 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-led alliance had won 12 out of 14 parliamentary seats in Jharkhand. The Congress and JMM won one seat each.

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