Setback to NDA, Marandi goes with JD(U)

SAPRADEEP KAUSHAL & Santosh Singh

BJP efforts to expand the NDA received a setback as Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) president Babulal Marandi Tuesday reached an electoral understanding with JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to jointly contest coming Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand.

The two sides forged the alliance at a meeting held at the house of JD(U) general secretary and Rajya Sabha member K C Tyagi.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Tyagi said: "We have decided to go with the JVM-P in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. We will hold discussions on number of seats both parties will contest at a later stage".

Tyagi said Marandi, a former BJP chief minister, had made it amply clear that the JD(U) and the JVM would work together to "fight communal forces".

BJP leaders had been working hard to get their erstwhile party colleague into the NDA-fold over the past three months notwithstanding Marandi's clear inclination to pursue a secular politics.

When asked to spell out the details of the seat adjustment, Tyagi said they had arrived at a broad understanding to fight the polls together. Sources, however, disclosed that the JD(U) would contest two of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, while Marandi will fight the rest.

The JD(U) had contested two seats — Chatra and Palamau — in the last Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand but could not win either of them.

The JVM-P currently has two members in the Lok Sabha. However, Marandi is confident of the JVM-P emerging as a major party in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. The BJP overtures to him obviously emanated from a perception about his grassroots level strength.

Marandi was among the leaders whom TMC president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sounded for the formation of a federal outfit consisting of regional parties.

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