Cong facing problems in forging pre-poll alliance in Jharkhand

Congress.

New Delhi,  Just ahead of the Assembly elections in Jharkhand, the Congress is facing major problems in firming up an alliance, with JVM already parting ways and JMM acting difficult in sharing of seats.

The 81-member state Assembly will go to polls in five phases from November 30 to December 20. Counting of votes will take place on December 23.

The Congress Election Committee is set to meet on November 9 to finalise the names of party candidates but the alliance deal has not been finalized yet.

Seat-sharing is a bone of contention between the two parties. The Congress had originally demanded 32 seats but now it is ready to settle for 31 seats.

However, JMM wants to give only 31 seats to Congress and RJD together. This means the Congress will have to settle for lesser than 31 seats as it will have to accommodate RJD.

At the same time, Congress this time wants to give tickets to all senior leaders from the party, so that it could have a chance to win more seats.

Among Congress’ senior leaders, Pradeep Balmuchu is keen to contest from Ghatshila, Dadai Dubey from Bishrampur and Sarfraz Ahmed from Gandey, their home turf seats.

Former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay’s name is also doing round for Hatia seat but sources close to him say he is not keen to contest.

Another ticklish issue is that of Chief Ministership. JMM wants to declare its leader Hemant Soren as CM candidate, sources said.

Congress, on the other hand, is averse of projecting anyone as Chief Ministerial candidate, as it feels that it would give advantage to the ruling BJP.

Earlier, the Congress was deserted by its former state unit chief Ajoy Kumar in August, accusing several senior leaders of working for themselves. He later joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

After Kumar, former state unit chief Sukhdev Bhagat and party MLA Manoj Yadav also jumped the ship and joined the ruling BJP last month.

In the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 37 seats while its ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) won five. The combined tally was enough for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to cross the majority mark of 41 in the Naxalism-affected state where the 2014 Assembly polls were also held in five phases.