After its alliance trouble in Maharashtra, the BJP received another setback after its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) decided to contest the Jharkhand Assembly polls alone. Even as it was going through an ugly divorce with its decades-old ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has fielded its own candidates in at least three constituencies where the BJP, its ally has already announced candidates.
The 81-member Jharkhand Assembly will vote in five phases starting from November 30 to December 20. Counting of votes will take place on December 23. Sharing the news of contesting alone, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son, Chirag Paswan, who recently took over the reins of the party said, “The decision to contest election in Jharkhand was to be taken by the party’s state unit. And the state unit of the LJP has decided to contest on 50 seats independently. By today evening the party will release the first list of candidates.”
LJP contested unsuccessfully on one seat in 2014 Assembly polls in the state.
The BJP was left redfaced after Shiv Sena, its 30-year-old alliance partner in Maharashtra, snubbed the saffron party over government formation in the state.
Even Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has decided to go it alone in the Jharkhand Assembly polls. The BJP, LJP and the JD-U currently have a coalition government in Bihar.
The BJP is contesting the Jharkhand Assembly polls in alliance with the AJSU. The BJP released the first list of 52 candidates for the Assembly polls in the state on Sunday.
Hours after declaring that it will go it alone in the Jharkhand assembly polls, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) released a list of five party candidates in the state.
A senior LJP leader said the party announced the names of five candidates for the first phase polls scheduled on November 30.
The party has fielded Rekha Chaubey from Nagar Bhavanathpur, Anand Pratap Singh from Husainabad, Shashikant Kumar from Chhatarpur (SC), Shashi Ranjan Dhar Dubey from Vishrampur and Ramdev Prasad Yadav from Panki assembly constituencies.
The party leader said that the list of the rest of the 45 candidates will be released after discussing it with the party’s Central Parliamentary Board.
Meanwhile, in response to the list of 52 candidates of the BJP, the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has announced 12 candidates. The AJSU has fielded its own candidates in at least four constituencies where the saffron party has already announced candidates.
Earlier in the day, AJSU President Sudesh Mahto addressing a press conference said, “When talks were going on, BJP announced its first list. We came out with our list after BJP announced their candidates. We wanted to fight on 19 seats. We have submitted the final list of the 17 seats to BJP. We are waiting for their response.”
He claimed that BJP wanted to swap some seats with the AJSU which was not acceptable to the latter.
After deciding to go solo in the Jharkhand assembly polls by ditching BJP, LJP Chief Chirag Paswan described the imposition of President’s Rule in Maharashtra as “unfortunate” and said that it was sad that BJP-Shiv Sena did not form a government for their “own ambitions”.
“Imposition of President’s Rule in Maharashtra is unfortunate. People gave their mandate to the NDA. It is sad that the parties did not form the government for their own ambitions,” Chirag Paswan tweeted.
His remarks came hours after his party decided to go solo in Jharkhand.
Chirag Paswan, who took over the reins of the party from his father and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan last week, has been “critical” of the BJP in the last few days.
On Monday, while speaking to reporters in Patna, the LJP chief had said that the party will not accept seats given to it as “tokens”.
The BJP, which is seeking re-election in the state has been facing alliance trouble in the state as Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United has also decided to contest alone in the state, while the alliance with the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) is in limbo.
All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) president Sudesh Mahto said that the party was waiting for the BJP response regarding seat-sharing and alliance for the assembly poll.
“Our party has decided to fight on those seats where we have a strong organisation. BJP imported legislators from other parties and wanted to fight on our seats,” said Mahto.
The BJP wanted to swap some seats with the AJSU which was not acceptable to the latter. The BJP wanted to field it’s candidates for the Lohardagga and Chadankyari seats. In 2014, the AJSU had fought from both the seats, winning Lohardagga but losing Chandankyari.
Amar Bawri had won the Chandankyari seat on a Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantantrik (JVM-P) ticket. Bawri later defected to the BJP along with five more JVM-P legislators and became the land and revenue minister.
Former Congress president and Lohardagga sitting legislator Sukhdeo Bhagat joined the BJP just before the poll announcement. Bhagat had won the Lohardagga seat in a bypoll.
Asked whether the AJSU has parted ways with the BJP, Mahto said “We are still waiting for the BJP response. There are two issues with the BJP. One was seat-sharing and the other the common agenda for the poll. The basic issues of the state should be included in the common agenda”.
He said “on several occasions the AJSU as a party and I have played the role of opposition. In an alliance, we should avoid a situation where we have to protest against the government policies.”
The AJSU has not been happy with the functioning of Chief Minister Raghubar Das on many occasions. AJSU leaders complain that the party was not consulted on key issues.
Meanwhile, the chief whip of the ruling BJP Radha Krishna Kishore on Tuesday joined the AJSU.
Kishore was denied a ticket by the BJP. He was the legislator from Chattarpur and the AJSU is likely to give him a ticket for the Chattarpur Assembly seat against the BJP candidate.
“I was the chief whip of the party. I have resigned from the membership of the BJP and joined AJSU. The AJSU is being led by a son of the soil. The denial of the ticket has surprised me and the people of my constituency as well. I asked for the reason from the BJP as to why I was denied the ticket,” said Kishore after joining the AJSU.
The party spokesperson Deosharan Bhagat said, “Party supremo, Sudesh Mahto will contest from Silli, Sunita Chaudhary wife of Giridih MP, Chandraprakash Chaudhary will contest from Ramgarh, MLA from Husainabad Kushwaha Sheopujan Mehta to contest from the same seat, Lambodar Mahto to be the party candidate from Gomia, Roshanlal Chaudhary, former AJSU Party candidate from Barkagaon to contest from the same seat.”
Sahis will contest from Jugsalai seat, Manoj Chandra is the candidate from Simaria, Sadanand Mahto to contest from Sindari and Ramlal Munda will be a candidate from Chakradharpur, Bhagat added.
On the other hand, BJP has also announced its candidates for Simaria, Chakardharpur and Sindri in its first list of 52 candidates on Sunday. The party has decided to field Chief Minister Raghuvar Das from Jamshedpur East.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, BJP had contested from 72 seats and had won 37 seats, whereas AJSU fought from eight seats but could win five seats.
In a move to settle the alliance, AJSU president Sudesh Mahto had met BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on Sunday late night. Mahto had informed Shah about the party point of view.
“Not only seat-sharing there are some issues which need to be addressed. We have shared our point of view with BJP president” said Mahto after the meeting.
BJP is likely to come with a second list of the candidates on Tuesday. In the first list, the party had preferred to avoid disputed seats with AJSU.
With the announcement of its candidates by the AJSU, BJP is likely to field its candidates from Chandankyrai and Lohardagga.
“Now there is the least chance of an alliance with AJSU. The state and central leadership are now not in contact with AJSU. Party may announce the second list by Tuesday evening” said a source in BJP said.
Interestingly, this development comes in the backdrop of the ugly spat between the Shiv Sena and BJP that followed with its minister Arvind Sawant resigning from the union cabinet on Monday and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray dialling Congress’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi seeking support.
As in Maharashtra, in Jharkhand too, the matter boiled down to an ego issue with both sides hardening their stand and refusing any negotiation.
November 13 is the last day for filing nominations for the first phase of polling in Jharkhand election. With one day left, will the BJP-AJSU be able to sort it out or will the saffron party, as it is tipped, brazen it out and challenge AJSU by releasing another list of candidates, taking it to a point of no return? (IANS)