Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Lok Sabha polls 2024: In Jharkhand, BJP will battle to retain all three LS seats in fifth phase

The fate of eminent leaders would be sealed on May 20 when Jharkhand will go for polling for three Lok Sabha seats in the fifth phase of the general election.

Apart from the three Lok Sabha constituencies of Hazaribagh, Koderma and Chatra, the State will also witness the Gandey Assembly bypoll where Kalpana Murmu Soren, wife of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, is contesting as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) candidate.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Dilip Verma is locked in a direct contest against Ms. Soren. Gandey Assembly seat fell vacant after the resignation of JMM MLA Sarfaraz Ahmad, who is now a Rajya Sabha member of the party.

The three Lok Sabha seats cover seven districts — Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Koderma, Giridih, Chatra, Latehar and Palamu — having 16 Assembly constituencies.

Koderma is one of the prominent seats in Jharkhand where Union Minister and BJP candidate Annapurna Devi is in fray against Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) candidate Vinod Singh, three time MLA from Bagodar. However, JMM rebel leader Jai Prakash Verma has also filed the papers as an Independent candidate.

Gandey Assembly segment comes under this constituency along with four other seats — Bagodar, Jamua, Dhanwar and Koderma.

Koderma was earlier represented by Jharkhand’s first Chief Minister Babulal Marandi in 2004 after the State was carved out of Bihar.

Mica belt

Ms. Devi was earlier in the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and she quit the party to move to the saffron party just months before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Interestingly, Ms. Devi had defeated Mr. Marandi in 2019 when he had contested the polls as a candidate of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik). Ms. Devi got 64.3% vote share whereas Mr. Marandi got 24.6%.

The BJP has won the seat six times starting from 1977 and the Congress has emerged the winner from the seat twice. The grand old party won the seat for the first time in 1984.

Koderma is famous for its mica belt and also the place where India’s first military school in Tilaiya was established. The Yadav and Kushwaha castes play a significant role in the elections as their numbers are sizeable among the population.

Hazaribagh: BJP stronghold

Another seat to watch out for is Hazaribagh, which was earlier represented by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha. After him, his son Jayant Sinha won the seat twice and also became a Union Minister.

Since 2009, Hazaribagh has been represented by the BJP and it is considered a stronghold of the saffron party. In 2009, Mr. Yashwant won the seat and his son Mr. Jayant won it twice in 2014 and 2019. Hazaribagh seat has five assembly segments — Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu and Hazaribagh.

In 2019, the winning margin was huge, Mr. Jayant defeated Congress candidate Gopal Prasad Sahu by 4,79,548 votes. He had got 7,28,798 votes with 67.42% vote share.

Despite getting such an unprecedented vote share, Mr. Jayant has been dropped this time and the BJP has fielded Manish Jaiswal as its nominee who is up against Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc and Congress candidate Jai Prakash Bhai Patel.

Hazaribagh will get a new face as its MP and a close electoral fight is expected as Mr. Patel is a former MLA of Mandu and represented the Assembly constituency for three terms. In March, Mr. Patel quit the ruling BJP and joined the Congress in New Delhi.

In 2004, Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate Bhubneshwar Prasad Mehta had defeated Mr. Yashwant by more than 1.5 lakh votes.

On Monday, Aashir Sinha, son of Mr. Jayant and grandson of Mr. Yashwant, attended an election rally of Mr. Patel in Barhi raising the talk of his potential entry into the Congress. However, Jharkhand Congress chief Rajesh Thakur told The Hindu thathe just attended the rally and did not intend to join the party.

The last time that the Congress won the seat was in 1984 when Damodar Pandey had defeated CPI candidate Mr. Mehta.

Chatra seat

In the Chatra Lok Sabha seat, there is a contest between two upper caste candidates. The population is dominated by Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). All three communities jointly have over 75% of vote share but the contest is between Bhumihar and Brahmin candidates.

The BJP has fielded Kalicharan Singh, who comes from the Bhumihar caste, whereas Congress has fielded Krishnandan Tripathi, a Brahmin leader. The party has dropped its two-term MP Sunil Kumar Singh, who won the seat in 2014 and 2019. In the previous election, Mr. Singh defeated Manoj Kumar Yadav of the Congress.

Mr. Kalicharan, who works as a teacher and is a resident of Chatra, has no experience of contesting any election. He is expecting to ride on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On May 11, Mr. Modi campaigned in Chatra for Mr. Singh and Hazaribagh candidate Mr. Jaiswal. On the other hand, Mr. Tripathi is a former MLA and former Minister with good political experience.

Chatra Lok Sabha seat has five Assembly segments — Simaria, Chatra, Manika, Latehar and Panki.

Dhirendra Agarwal, who comes from the Marwari community, has won this seat thrice in 1996, 1998 and 2004. Similarly, Inder Singh Ramdhari, who comes from the Sikh community, had won the seat as an Independent candidate in 2009.

A Naxal-affected constituency, Chatra was once a stronghold of RJD chief Lalu Prasad whose party won this seat twice in 1999 and 2004.