RANCHI: As the Election Commission (EC) inches towards the announcement of election dates, opposition parties have intensified their efforts for giving shape to a grand alliance in Jharkhand.
The Congress, which so far was reluctant to accept the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's (JMM) leadership in Assembly polls, has announced that the JMM will be playing the big brother’s role in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Though the opposition parties are yet to reach a consensus over the seat-sharing formula, the JMM has already made it clear that it will be contesting 41 seats in the 81-member Assembly in Jharkhand.
As per the agreement between the Congress and JMM before the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was to lead the grand alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, while the JMM was to take charge in Assembly elections. However, the Congress party, which was also been making claims on half of the Assembly seats, is said to have agreed on contesting 30-35 seats.
“The talks are still on with JMM and Congress and in the first round of talks, we have reached consensus on fielding candidates who were number one and number two in 2014 Assembly elections, making a total count of 17 seats for the Congress party,” said Congress spokesperson LKN Shahdeo.
Moreover, the Congress also wants 15-18 more seats, where it has a strong mass base and fair chances of winning, he added.
Shahdeo said that the final decision will be taken in New Delhi in presence of senior party leaders, as was done ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Congress insiders also admitted that there are at least 5-7 seats -- Sisai, Gumla, Ghatshila, Simdega and Pakur -- where both the Congress and JMM wanted to field their candidates.
Meanwhile, RJD has also placed a demand of 14 Assembly seats in the grand alliance. “We have been insisting on contesting 14 Assembly seats. If Hemant Soren wants to become Chief Minister, he will have to show a bigger heart and will also have to make sacrifices,” said state RJD President Abhay Singh.
Babulal Marandi’s JVM, on the other hand, is yet to clear its stand whether it will join the alliance or not. Speculation is rife that it may go alone, for which the party is making all-out efforts to strengthen the organisation.
“No formal talks have taken place so far with any of the parties and no decision has been taken by the party in this regard. We are in a wait and watch mode and take a decision after looking at the stand of other parties,” said JVM spokesperson Saroj Singh. The JVM-P is always free to take any decision independently, he added.
The Left parties have not yet opened their cards and are likely to contest at least 40 seats. Among all opposition parties, the JMM is in the strongest position with 19 MLAs in the Assembly, while the Congress has only 7, JVM 2, and left parties together have 4 MLAs.
The ruling BJP has 42 MLAs and AJSU has only 4 MLAs making a total count of 46 in the Jharkhand Assembly.