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Jharkhand polls: JMM, Cong, RJD seal seat-sharing deal, project Hemant Soren as CM face

Jharkhand polls: JMM, Cong, RJD seal seat-sharing deal, project Hemant Soren as CM face

New Delhi: After days of backchannel negotiations and posturing, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Friday announced a Mahagathbandhan for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

While the JMM will contest from 43 seats, the Congress and the RJD will be fighting from 31 and 7 seats respectively. The RJD will contest on Deoghar, Godda, Kodarma, Chatra, Barkata, Hussianabad and Chatarpur seats. Out of 13 seats in the first phase of Jharkhand elections, Congress will contest on seven seats, JMM on four and the RJD on two seats.

Declaring JMM working president Hemant Soren as the CM face of the Opposition, Jharkhand Congress president RPN Singh said, "Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren will be the Chief Ministerial face of the opposition and there will be no 'friendly fight'."

Till Thursday, the Opposition alliance, which included the RJD, was undecided on whether it should project a chief ministerial candidate.

According to the earlier developments, the Congress was not keen on declaring Soren as the CM face. It said that the decision may not go down well with non-tribals and this sentiment may be exploited by the ruling BJP which is led by a non-tribal Chief Minister.

The Congress had contested 62 out of the 81 seats in the 2014 state polls, but ended up winning only six seats and forfeiting deposits in 42 seats. It won two more seats in subsequent bye-elections. "We had won 6 seats and had come second in 10 seats last time…we won two seats in by-elections, later including one seat where we had come second. So we were first and second in a total of 17 seats…Even if we get to contest 25 seats, it is a good deal," a senior party leader said earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, although the BJP has claimed that it will win 65 plus seats in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly in the upcoming election, insiders say the ruling party faces four major challenges — "anti-BJP sentiment" among tribals, the image of Chief Minister Raghubar Das, induction of leaders with criminal cases and issues arising out of ticket distribution.

The Election Commission had announced elections in five phases beginning November 30 to elect a new Assembly in Jharkhand. More than 2.26 crore electors will vote for 81 MLAs. (There is one nominated member in the 82-seat Jharkhand House.)



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