JMM eyes LS seats outside Jharkhand - Hindustan Times
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JMM eyes LS seats outside Jharkhand

By, Ranchi
Jan 13, 2024 09:58 PM IST

“Besides contesting in Jharkhand, the party has expressed its desire to contest tribal-dominated seats in neighbouring Odisha, Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and Bihar,” a JMM leader said.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has expressed its desire to contest Lok Sabha seats beyond Jharkhand “wherever it has had its political and organisational footprints in the past”, people aware of the development said on Saturday.

JMM and Congress leaders during a meeting in Delhi. (HT photo)
JMM and Congress leaders during a meeting in Delhi. (HT photo)

The issue came up for discussion in the meeting of the four-member delegation of JMM led by transport minister Champai Soren with the National Alliance Committee (NAC) of the Congress at the residence of party general secretary Mukul Wasnik in New Delhi on Saturday, the people said.

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Besides other NAC members, including Ashok Gehlot, Mohan Prakash, and Salman Khurshid, Jharkhand Congress chief Rajesh Thakur and legislature party leader Alamgir Alam were also present.

“Besides contesting in Jharkhand, the party has expressed its desire to contest tribal-dominated seats in neighbouring Odisha, Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and Bihar. JMM wants representation in areas where it has had its organisational and political footprints in the past. JMM contesting in some of the seats outside Jharkhand would add to the strength of the INDIA bloc due to the face value of tribal CM Hemant Soren. Now, the top leadership of the two parties would decide over the issue in subsequent meetings,” a senior leader who was part of the negotiations on Saturday said.

The next round of the meeting is likely to be held in a week, preferably in Ranchi. The leaders said the JMM’s pitch for contesting seats outside Jharkhand could also be an effort to have more arm space for finalising the seat-sharing within Jharkhand.

“Besides Congress, other parties like RJD, JD (U), and left parties are also eyeing seats in Jharkhand. The JMM’s pitch to contest seats outside Jharkhand would help neutralise the pressure in Jharkhand,” a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.

At the time of the separate Jharkhand movement, the tribal-dominated parts of Bengal, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh were also included in the idea of a “Greater Jharkhand” state.

“The JMM has won Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat in Odisha in the past besides having representation in both Bengal and Odisha legislative assembly,” a senior JMM leader said, requesting anonymity.

While both parties refused to share the exact seat-sharing formula, leaders involved in the negotiations said that, in Jharkhand, the JMM is eyeing at least five Lok Sabha seats, including Rajmahal, Dumka, Giridih, Jamshedpur, and Koderma. Rajmahal is its sitting seat, people close to the matter said.

In 2019, as part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the JMM contested the four aforementioned seats barring Koderma, which has been added to the demand list for 2024. The Congress got nine of 14 seats while JMM got five constituencies. While the Congress allocated two from its quota, Koderma and Godda, to Babulal Marandi-led JVM (P), JMM gave one seat, Palamu, to the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) from its kitty.

“It also came up for discussion that since the Congress was negotiating with other parties like RJD, JDU, and Left vis-a-vis seat-sharing in other states, it is the Congress that should also discuss the seat-sharing with these parties in the context of Jharkhand,” another leader present in the meeting said.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, JMM leader and transport minister Soren said, “We have had a very constructive discussion. This alliance is strong. No party is big or small. Everything will be finalised soon,” he said.

Congress Legislature Party leader and rural development minister Alamgir Alam said the seat-sharing formula would be finalised soon. “We are eyeing a 2004-like result (when UPA won 13 of 14 seats). Both sides have put forth their views. A decision would be taken soon,” Alam said.

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