Jharkhand’s first Chief Minister Babulal Marandi is still not politically a spent force but circumstances have left him gasping and the ground under his feet got shrunken. He was left fuming and adjusting black ribbon on right sleeve along with few of his supporters at the party office to observe black day on the very day six out of eight of his party MLAs switched their loyalty towards the BJP.
“I never expected the BJP this kind of behaviour. I started my politics from the BJP, which was known for adhering to values and morality in politics. Now the BJP in the power right from Centre to states the very culture of the party has been vitiated,” Marandi told Organiser.
After desertion of six MLAs—Navin Jaiswal, Ganesh Gounjhu, Amar Kumar Bouri, Alok Kumar Chourasia, Randhir Kumar Singh and Janki Prasad Yadav—Marandi is left with two MLAs Pradeep Yadav and Prakash Ram in the Assembly. The BJP winning 37 seats in the house of 82 nearly missed majority on its own. But the party was able to form government along with its pre-poll alliance partner AJSU Party, which has five MLAs thus making a simple majority.
Six MLAs leaving Marandi and JVM was not a drama scripted overnight. To an extent Marandi himself was responsible for allowing rumours of possible merger or handshake of his party with the BJP. Even during the Parliamentary election top BJP leaders persuaded him for the merger of the JVM in the BJP. But Marandi that time preferred maintaining distance with the BJP.
Marandi suffered both personal and political loss in the parliamentary and Assembly election. In Assembly election he contested from two seats—Giridih and Dhanwar—and lost with huge margin. His tally slipped from 11 MLAs to eight MLAs this time. But despite phenomenal surge of BJP’s tally both in terms of seats and percentage of votes; Marandi was able to net around 10 per cent of total vote cast.
The BJP was long trying to win Marandi back to the party fold after he left the BJP and floated a new party; the JVM. Just after Assembly poll result Marandi following an invitation met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi to discuss merger plan. Top sources in the BJP claimed that Marandi initially agreed for merger.
“But after few days back Marandi approached BJP bosses with a fresh proposal saying that he will complete merger process within two months but prior to this two of his party MLAs should be inducted in the ministry. He seemed to be taking decision under pressure of his party MLA Pradeep Yadav, who has virtually hijacked Marandi. But rest in the party wanted him to formally join the BJP. Now if his MLAs have left him he is solely responsible for this,” a senior BJP leader said.
But Marandi claimed that he met Shah under pressure of some people and workers of his party. “Had I not met Shah; people and media would have started criticising me as a stubborn politician who is not ready to move even an inch. Shah told me merger is the only option which I refused. Back to Ranchi my colleagues and MLAs too supported my line. However, I had told them (MLAs) that they may extend issue based support to the BJP government,” Marandi said.
But BJP State in-charge Trivendra Singh Rawat countered charges of horse-trading. “These are baseless charges. We are only accepting those who want to contribute significantly to good governance and who believe in the promises that the Das government has made to the State. We will welcome Marandi back to the party.”
“We actually don’t understand Marandi’s political line…probably he has lost quota of common sense. He doesn’t remain stick to a line. After the JVM was formed we assiduously projected him as a secular minded development loving politician. Sometimes he sits in lap of the Congress and soon after bounces back to TMC of Mamata Banerjee. At once he turns votary of third front to weed out BJP totally. Just before Assembly election he was negotiating with the BJP for poll pact which the BJP did not accept. It is like beget like,” said Praveen Singh; founder member of the JVM who few days back left him. – Abha Bharti in Ranchi