Soren’s fate to be locked in second phase (Poll curtain raiser – Jharkhand)

Ranchi, April 22 (Inditop) Former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren’s electoral fate will be tested again Thursday in the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls which is likely to see a keen contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) members Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

The JMM chief, Soren, is among the three former chief ministers – the other two are Arjun Munda and Madhu Koda – who are in the fray.

The BJP has fielded young party legislator Sunil Soren against the JMM chief In Dumka. Sunil was with the JMM before 2005 assembly elections.

Soren is trying his luck again nearly four months after he lost a key state assembly by-election in January that he needed to win to remain in power. The humiliating defeat forced the then chief minister to step down. The state is since then under president’s rule with the assembly in suspended animation.

There are 164 candidates in the fray whose fate will be decided by around 10.9 million voters.

A tough battle from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely for the Congress and the JMM to retain the eight Jharkhand Lok Sabha seats that vote Thursday. The two UPA members had won all eight seats in the last general elections in 2004.

Dhanbad constituency has both the highest number of contestants – 32 – and voters also – nearly 1.8 million.

The second phase will decide the fate of union Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahay who is seeking re-election from Ranchi on a Congress ticket.

Soren who is unwell for the last three months did not campaign in the elections.

Koda is contesting as an independent candidate from Singhbhum constituency and is facing a tough battle from the Congress.

In Ranchi the Congress campaign for Subodh Kant Sahay was one of the most high profile in the state. Film stars like Mahima Chaudhary, Zeenat Aman, Poonam Dhillon, Ehsan Qureshi, Minisha Lamba and Akbar Khan canvassed from him. Congress president Sonia Gandhi also campaigned for Sahay.