Congress Ties Up With Regional Parties in Jharkhand to Counter BJP Wave; Hemant Soren to be CM Pick

Ranchi: Ending months of uncertainty, the Congress has firmed up its alliance with regional parties in Jharkhand to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the state assembly polls.

The anti-BJP alliance in the state has also agreed to project Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) working president Hemant Soren as the chief ministerial candidate for the state assembly polls later this year.

“Congress president Rahul Gandhi had earlier said we will contest the state assembly elections under Soren’s leadership and it was reiterated in the meeting,” Jharkhand Congress president Ajay Kumar said after a meeting of opposition parties in Ranchi on Thursday evening.

The grand alliance against the BJP will have five parties — JMM, Congress, RJD, CPI and Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM).

Of the 14 seats in Jharkhand, JMM will contest in four seats, according to sources. One seat — either Palamu or Chatra — will go to RJD. JVM will be contesting in two seats and CPI will contest from Hazaribagh, a seat held by Union minister Jayant Sinha. Congress will field its candidates on the remaining seats.

As a pre-condition for a tie-up in Lok Sabha elections, the JMM has been insisting on projection of Soren as the chief ministerial candidate for the assembly polls. The demand seems to have been met by the alliance partners.

“You can see all of us here together. We will discuss contours of our alliance within our party and finalise the seat-sharing arrangement by this month end,” Babulal Marandi said after the meeting.

The BJP won 12 of the 14 seats in Jharkhand in the last Lok Sabha elections. The remaining two were won by the JMM. The Congress which contested in nine seats in alliance with the JMM lost in all nine.

The ties between the JMM and the Congress had soured last month when the former supported an independent candidate in the Kolebera bypolls to the state assembly. The Congress, however, managed to win the seat defeating the BJP by more than 10,000 votes.

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