Congress threatens to fight Jharkhand polls on its own

March 17th, 2009 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, March 17 (IANS) Fed up of continuing tensions over seat sharing with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partner Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress Tuesday warned that it would go it alone in the general elections in the state.
“It would be difficult to fight an election in an alliance if the situation persists and no consensus is evolved. The Congress will go it alone in the Lok Sabha elections,” state Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu told reporters.

“Our party is trying to make last ditch efforts to keep the UPA intact in the state,” he added.

The statement can only intensify tensions between the Congress and the JMM, the two key players in the UPA in the state.

Last week, JMM chief Shibu Soren’s son Durga denied that any seat sharing arrangement with UPA partners and said that a nominee of his party should first be made chief minister.

Following the statement, a group of JMM legislators also got together to say they were unhappy with an alliance with the UPA for the Lok Sabha elections as the party had not been allowed to form a government in the state.

Relations between the two parties have soured since January with the JMM feeling that the Congress did not help when Shibu Soren had to resign as chief minister in January this year - after he lost the Tamar assembly by-poll - and president’s rule was imposed in the state.

UPA partners in New Delhi had last week announced that the JMM would contest four of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress six and the Rashtriya Janata Dal two. A decision on the two seats of Hazaribagh and Koderma would be taken later.

While the JMM wants Hazaribagh and RJD claims Koderma, the Congress also wants to fight on both seats.

Another bone of contention has been the Rajmahal seat where Congress legislator Thomas Hansda has said he was determined to contest even if it meant fighting as an Independent. Rajmahal was represented in the 14th Lok Sabha by the JMM.

The Congress has announced five of its six candidates. It has denied a ticket to Khuti Lok Sabha MP Sushila Kerketta and has decided to field legislator Niel Tirkey instead.

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