Munda faces tough by-poll as campaigning ends

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RANCHI - Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a three-time winner from Kharsawa assembly constituency, is toiling hard to coast to victory in Thursday’s by-poll as the campaigning ended Tuesday.

Munda requires to win the by-poll and become a member of the state assembly to fulfil a constitutional necessity as the six-month period since his swearing-in as the chief minister in September is about to end.

The united opposition against him and voters’ anger over several issues have made the election significant.

Krishna Gagrai of the Jharkhnd Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P), the common opposition candidate, has been giving Munda a tough fight.

Gagrai is supported by the Congress and former mentors of Munda like Shailendra Mahto, Suraj Singh Besra and others. Former chief minister and JVM-P chief Babulal Marandi has taken charge of the opposition candidate’s campaign.

People of the area are unhappy after the panchyat polls two months ago when the local tribal Manki-Munda system in panchayats was abolished.

According to the Manki-Munda tradition, villages are bestowed with the power of self-governance. In this age-old system, a Manki, the village head, acts as a judge on petty crimes and collects revenues.

Also, the backward communities in the constituency are unhappy over the 50 percent reservation to tribal people.

Munda has been campaigning late into the night to woo voters. He is accompanied by two deputy chief Ministers Sudesh Mahto and Hemant Soren. Mahato is the president of All Jharkhand Students union (AJU) and Soren is the son of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren.

Three cabinet ministers, Sataynanad Jha, Gopal Krishan Patar alias Raja Peter and Hemlal Murmu, are also members of the chief minister’s campaign team.

Subodh Kant Sahay, the union tourism minister and Ranchi MP, and other senior leaders have campaigned for Gargai.

Munda is, however, confident of winning the by-poll.

“People will create history. People of Kharsawa are aware of the development of the state and the constituency,” he said.

Marandi claims Munda’s defeat is certain.

“Munda has lost the poll. It will be officially known on the counting day,” he said.

The counting of votes will take place Feb 17.

Munda won the Kharsawa seat in 1995 on a JMM ticket. He joined the BJP just before the 2000 assembly polls. He again won the seat in 2000 and 2005 on the BJP ticket.

In 2009 assembly elections, the BJP’s Mangal Singh Soy won the seat and resigned last year to facilitate Munda to get elected to the assembly.

Filed under: Politics

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