Soren loses by-election, BJP demands fresh assembly polls (Lead)

January 8th, 2009 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyRanchi, Jan 8 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Thursday lost an assembly by-election that he needed to win to remain in power, prompting the state’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to demand his resignation and fresh assembly polls.Soren lost the Tamar constituency by-election by 9,062 votes to Raja Peter of the Jharkhand Party - a constituent of the ruling coalition that had rebelled against the veteran politician.

When he became chief minister Aug 27 last year, Soren was not a member of the legislative assembly and needed to be elected within six months.

While Soren, a former central minister, was yet to comment on the outcome, Peter, who secured 34,186 votes, said: “It is victory of the people of Tamar. I have worked here for last 10 years and my people have recognised my work.”

The BJP demanded Soren’s resignation and president’s rule in the state.

“The only option left is imposing president’s rule. Then elections should be conducted to seek people’s mandate. People of Jharkhand now do not want an experiment,” said Arjun Munda, former chief minister and BJP leader.

BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said in Lucknow: “Not only Soren but (his allies) the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are also defeated.”

The state has seen a long period of political instability and now there should be fresh elections, he said.

According to sources in the state’s ruling United Progressive Alliance, central UPA leaders have asked Soren and former chief minister Madhu Koda to go to New Delhi to discuss the political scenario.

The central alliance leadership is likely to ask Soren to step down and ensure formation of a new UPA government in the state, they said.

Jharkhand Party president and former rural development minister Enos Ekka had fielded Peter going against the wishes of the state UPA leaders, who had decided to field Soren as their candidate.

Soren threatened to sack Ekka if he did not withdraw his party’s candidate but the latter stood his ground.

Soren sacked Ekka and Harinarayan Rai, citing a corruption case filed against them by the vigilance department.

The polling took place Jan 5 amid tight security.

The seat had fallen vacant after former minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Ramesh Singh Munda was killed by Maoists last July.

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