Jharkhand elections: AJSU fields nominees in same seats as ally BJP, says no going back

Abhishek Angad
AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto

A day after the All Jharkhand Student’s Union (AJSU) Party announced candidates for 12 seats— in four of which ally BJP had declared its nominees —AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto on Monday asserted that they would not go back on their decision.

“We are strong in these 12 seats and will not go back. We have prepared for the election and are waiting for a response (from the BJP),” Mahto said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The BJP, meanwhile, said its course of action would be decided by the central leadership. BJP spokesperson Pradeep Sinha said, “We are in a wait and watch mode, and it depends on the central leadership now.”

Explained | Why BJP ally AJSU is playing hardball in Jharkhand

A BJP leader who did not wish to be named said, “There are chances that the alliance could be over.”

Mahto made the announcement after returning from Delhi where, according to sources, no agreement on seat-sharing with the BJP could be reached.


Concession hope after recent polls

Following the BJP’s less than expected performance in the recent Maharashtra and Haryana elections, AJSU seems to be hoping to extract concessions from its alliance partner in Jharkhand. AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto had earlier said that they had played the role of the opposition from within the government better than the actual opposition.

Mahto had earlier told The Indian Express that he had indicated the party’s strength in 25 constituencies. Sources said AJSU had pitched for 17 seats.

The BJP announced candidates for 52 seats for the Jharkhand Assembly polls, following which ally AJSU declared candidates for 12 seats, including four where BJP had already named candidates. The four common seats are Sindri, Chakradharpur, Simaria and Mandu.

Chakradharpur is currently with Shashibhushan Samad of JMM. The seat was won by Lakshman Giluwa, who is now the state BJP chief, in 2009. BJP has fielded Giluwa in Chakradharpur this time, while AJSU has nominated Ram Lal Munda.

Simaria was won by Jay Prakash Singh Bhogta of the JVM(P) in 2009, and by Ganesh Ganjhu of the same party in 2014. In 2015, Ganjhu and five other JVM(P) MLAs joined the BJP. The AJSU has now fielded Manoj Chandra from Simaria while the BJP has named Kishun Kumar Das.

Mandu was won by JMM’s Teklal Mahto in 2009. The party retained the seat in the 2011 bypoll, and in 2014. This time the AJSU has fielded Nirmal Mahto and BJP J P Patel.

For Sindri, the AJSU has fielded Sadanand Mahto and the BJP Indrajeet Mahto.

Two other seats —Chandankyari and Lohardaga —— are another bone of contention between the allies. For Chandankyari seat, AJSU has announced the candidature of Umakant Rajak, who won the seat in 2009. In 2014, JVM(P)’s Amar Kumar Bauri won, and the following year he joined the BJP. The BJP is yet to announce its Chandankyari candidate for this year.

For Lohardaga, AJSU has named Niru Shanti Bhagat. The BJP, sources said, is likely to field Congress turncoat Sukhdeo Bhagat, who joined the party recently.

Meanwhile, at Mahto’s press conference, BJP MLA from Chattarpur Radhakrishna Kishore joined AJSU after he was denied a ticket. Nine other MLAs have also not got tickets from the BJP.

At the press conference, Kishore said: “In the last five years I worked hard to implement development schemes. I am shocked to see that I did not get a ticket. I would request the BJP to make the reasons public... I joined AJSU as it has the character of a political party.”