A slew of leaders from opposition parties in Jharkhand are switching sides to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, where elections are scheduled in November-December this year.
Leaders from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have either joined the BJP or are about to jump ship.
After the RJD’s former parliamentarian Manoj Bhuiyan, it now the turn of JMM and JVM-P leaders Kushwaha Sashi Bhushan Mehta and Prakash Ram respectively to join the BJP.
Mehta and Ram will switch over to the BJP on October 3 and October 5 respectively.
Mehta had unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from the Panki general seat as an Independent candidate in 2009 and 2014. He had joined the JMM in 2016 but faced defeat in Panki by-poll again.
Mehta, who owned a CBSE affiliated school in Ranchi, is facing trial in a murder case, which is running at final stage.
“I am a strong contender in Panki assembly seat, which is evident from the results of the past three elections in which I stood a runner-up. I enjoy the support of 70% voters of the constituency,” Mehta said.
“Since the constituency is represented by the Congress, there is all likelihood that it will go to the Congress kitty after the seat-sharing deal between Mahagathbhandan (grand alliance) parties. In that case, I will not be able to contest the upcoming elections, which would be an injustice to my supporters,” he said.
Mehta, however, said he is sure of getting a BJP ticket and winning the upcoming polls.
“My Panki constituency will be one of the 65 plus seats, the BJP is targeting to win among the total 81 seats in Jharkhand,” he said.
Considered to be a Congress bastion, Panki assembly constituency is going to witness a tough fight after Mehta joins the BJP. However, caste factor will play a crucial role in deciding the results.
The JVM-P is in for yet another setback after its six legislators joined the BJP soon after winning the polls in 2014.
Prakash Ram, one of the party’s remaining two members of Legislative Assembly, has also decided to join the BJP on October 5, sources in the BJP confirmed.
“There is great pressure from my supporters and workers to join the BJP. Talks are going on with the saffron party. Things will be decided soon in a couple of days,” Ram, who won from the Latehar assembly seat in 2014, said.