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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 03:23:38 PM, IANS

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Ranchi: Jharkhand was Wednesday headed towards political uncertainty with a messy, fractured electoral verdict that gave no clear leads to any grouping. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) was pitchforked into the role of kingmaker in the 81-member assembly.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliances were virtually neck-and-neck and the JMM followed close behind, making a hung assembly inevitable.


According to the latest trends available for the 81 seats, for which counting was on, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had won five seats and was ahead in 17.


The Congress had won three and was leading in 11 constituencies. Its partner, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik, bagged one and was leading in nine seats.


Shibu Soren’s JMM got one seat and was ahead in 16 seats — its 17 possible seats propelling it to kingmaker in any electoral calculation in the state that has been under president’s rule for almost a year.


Others, including Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), were leading in 17 seats.


The RJD, which could also play a crucial role in government formation, got one seat and was leading in five.


As the Congress and the BJP vied for the JMM’s support, the party put a rider on its support — make Soren, who was watching the results unfold on TV from Bokaro, chief minister.


“We will support only those who will favour Shibu Soren (the JMM chief) as the new chief minister,” JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya told IANS as the trend became clear right in the morning.


The Congress played its “secular” card to woo Soren while the BJP said nobody was “untouchable”.


“It is high time that secular forces unite,” said union Food Processing Minister and Congress MP Subodh Kant Sahay.


K. Keshav Rao of the Congress, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Jharkhand, also said he would be talking to Soren.

Some Congress leaders were also buoyed by the fact that the RJD and the JMM, though estranged partners and not part of the United Progressive Alliance, supported it from outside.


“They are not part of the UPA as of now but the RJD and JMM support the central government from outside,” Congress Working Committee member Satyavrat Chaturvedi said.


Admitting that the BJP would not be able to form the government on its own, Jharkhand unit president Raghubar Das said no one was “untouchable” in politics and that the party was “open to an alliance”.


“No one is an untouchable for us. We are ready for an alliance government with the support of other parties,” Das told IANS.

Both the groupings also expressed their disappointment in the results.


“The results have not been on expected lines,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.


The Congress said they had “improved” their position in the state.

“But we were hoping to get more seats. The results are short of expectations,” party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.


The election also threw up some interesting results.


Among the prominent winners was Geeta Koda, the wife of graft-tainted former chief minister Madhu Koda, who won from Jagganthpur constituency defeating BJP’s Sonaram Biruwa.


“It is the victory of my husband. This is the victory of the people and it is also the victory of honesty of Madhu Koda,” Geeta Koda said about her jailed husband.


Another former minister Enos Ekka, who too is in jail on graft charges, won from Kolebera, defeating Mahendra Bhagat of the BJP.


Janata Dal-United (JD-U) state president Jaleshwar Mahto lost to JVM-P Dullu Mahto by over 10,000 votes from Baghmara constituency. The JD-U is BJP’s partner.


Counting of votes polled in the five-phased Jharkhand assembly elections had begun Wednesday morning amid heavy security.


The staggered polls to the 81-member Jharkhand assembly were held between Nov 25 and Dec 18. A total of 1,511 candidates were in the fray and a 58 percent voter turnout was recorded.







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