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Ayodhya, nationalism will have little impact on Jharkhand elections: Hemant Soren

Ex-CM & Jharkhand Mukti Morcha working president Hemant Soren says alliance talks with Congress & RJD are on, but his party won’t contest less than 42 seats.

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New Delhi: The Ayodhya verdict, expected to be delivered soon by the Supreme Court, and issues like nationalism will have very little impact on the upcoming assembly elections in Jharkhand, according to Hemant Soren, working president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

The Jharkhand elections are set to take place in five phases between 30 November and 20 December, with the counting of votes set for 23 December.

In a telephonic interview with ThePrint, former chief minister Soren said the recent assembly election results in Haryana and Maharashtra provided enough of an indication that issues like Ayodhya and nationalism did not have a huge effect on the outcome.

“Unlike Lok Sabha polls, assembly elections are fought on local issues. People in Jharkhand are bothered about getting employment, good education and healthcare facilities,” Soren said.

Also read: Jharkhand set for 5-phase polls, BJP to take on opposition buoyed by Haryana result

Alliance talk

The JMM, co-founded by Hemant Soren’s father and three-time CM Shibu Soren, had emerged as the second-largest party in the 2014 assembly polls with 19 seats in the 81-member house, behind the BJP’s tally of 37.

JMM’s ally Congress had won seven seats, while BJP’s ally All Jharkhand Students Union won five. Former CM Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) won eight seats, while smaller parties won the other five. Six JVM(P) MLAs later joined the BJP.

This time around, the JMM is likely to tie-up with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, though nothing has been formalised yet. Soren is adamant that the JMM is not going to contest less than 42 of the 81 seats.

“We will contest anywhere between 42 and 44 seats. This was decided at our working committee meeting Wednesday. We have conveyed it to both the Congress and the RJD,” Soren said, adding that while talks are on, “the only thing that is more or less clear now is that JVM(P) will not be part of the alliance”.

The JVM(P) has already announced that it will go solo in the assembly polls, having been a part of the opposition alliance in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. Two other prospective allies, the CPI and the CPI(M), might also not come on board. The CPI has already announced that it will contest 16 seats.

Also read: Why Jharkhand elections can determine the course of Indian politics

Offer to Congress & RJD

JMM sources said the Congress is being offered 29 or 30 seats, with the RJD set to be allocated the remaining seven or eight.

Soren himself refused to divulge seat-sharing details, but said the formula had already been conveyed to the Congress and the RJD. “But the two parties have not got back to us yet,” Soren said, adding that if the status quo remains, the JMM is ready to go it alone.

“It will be tough but we will fight,” he said.

Rameshwar Oraon, the Jharkhand Congress chief, told ThePrint that his party will ally with the JMM.

“Talks are on and a formal announcement will be made soon. We had a meeting Wednesday with senior party leaders in Delhi. Currently discussions are on regarding seats,” Oraon said.

Alamgir Alam, the Jharkhand Congress Legislative Party leader, said the alliance was already agreed upon before the Lok Sabha elections, when the Congress, JMM, RJD and the JVM(P) came together. The Left parties were not part of this alliance after failing to reach an agreement on seats.

Also read: Before polls, Jharkhand’s BJP govt to pay reporters Rs 15,000 to write on welfare schemes

JMM to announce candidates on 8 Nov

Soren said even if the alliance is not finalised by then, the JMM will put out its list of candidates Friday, 8 November. “Nominations have already started from Wednesday. We can’t wait any longer. The candidates also need time to prepare,” Soren said.

Soren is confident that the JMM will get a majority of the tribal votes in the state, despite the JVM(P)’s decision to part ways with the alliance. “I don’t see tribal votes splitting between JMM and JVM(P),” he said.

Soren himself will contest from Dumka, and is confident of victory despite his father’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections to the BJP’s Sunil Soren. Dumka is considered the family’s pocket borough as the senior Soren won the Lok Sabha polls eight times from the seat, dating back to 1980.

“The Lok Sabha elections are different; the issues in Lok Sabha and assembly elections are different. I am confident of winning from Dumka,” Hemant Soren said.

Also read: These are India’s 34 most powerful political families


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