Jharkhand ex-chief ministers campaign hard for top post

Ranchi, Nov 16 (Inditop.com) All of Jharkhand’s former chief ministers have hit the campaign trail in right earnest for the forthcoming assembly polls, with most of them eyeing the top post once again. The list includes scam tainted Madhu Koda, who faces charges of laundering Rs.2,500 crore.

Babulal Marandi, the first chief minister after the state was carved out of Bihar in 2000, is campaigning for his party Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) along with the Congress for the elections that begin Nov 25.

Marandi, who was chief minister from November 2000 to March 2003, addresses about five to seven public meetings every day. At all rallies, he makes it a point to remind people about his government’s performance and asserts his stand to fight against corruption.

Marandi, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member, floated the JVM-P in 2006 and has now cemented an alliance with the Congress.

As per the seat sharing agreement, the Congress is contesting 59 seats and JVM-P 19. They will still fight each other in seven seats.

The state’s second chief minister Arjun Munda of the BJP is also busy campaigning but he says he is not in the race for the top post this time and that the party would decide about the chief minister after the results.

Munda, now a Lok Sabha MP, is also holding rallies and telling people about the “misrule” in Jharkhand after his government was toppled. He was chief minister from March 2003 to February 2005 and March 2005 to September 2006. In March 2005, Shibu Soren held the post for nine days.

Koda, who is now at the centre of a Rs.2,500 crore money laundering scam, has also kicked off his political campaign and is using it to claim his innocence.

On Saturday, he gave the slip to Income Tax (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials and went to his hometown Chaibasa in Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituency to campaign for his supporters.

“I am being implicated as I belong to a poor tribal family. I will expose everyone at a suitable time,” Koda, an independent MP now, said in Singhbhum.

He said there was a conspiracy to separate him from the people of his constituency. “One cannot keep me away from elections as this is my constitutional right,” Koda said, daring investigators to prove the charges against him.

His supporters have floated the Jharkhand Navnirman Morcha (JNM) and announced nominees for five assembly seats. Koda’s wife Geeta will fight the elections from the Jagannathpur assembly constituency.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren, who ruled the state from August 2008 to January 2009, has no hesitation in announcing himself as the chief ministerial candidate.

“I have served people for the last 40 years and who could be a better chief minister than me?” Soren said while kicking off his poll campaign.

The JMM is contesting all the 81 assembly seats at stake.

Besides the former chief ministers, central Food Processing Minister and Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay is also holding public meetings in support of his Congress party.

But hinting at himself, he had said in a lighter vein: “The chief minister candidate is front of you.”

The five-phase polls to the Jharkhand assembly will be held Nov 25-Dec 18 and the counting will take place Dec 23.