BJP may get Babulal Marandi back after Jharkhand poll defeat

Ranchi (IANS) Speculations are rife that former chief minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) president Babulal Marandi is all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming days.

After the BJP faced humiliating defeat in the recently held Assembly elections, political realignments seem to be taking place in the state. And this may see Marandi doing a “ghar wapsi” in the BJP.

Analysts say that the BJP paid a heavy price for elevating a non-tribal, Raghubar Das, as the chief minister of the state. The BJP lost the majority of the seats reserved for the tribal community in the state.

More than 20 days have passed since the Assembly election results came, the BJP has not elected its legislative party leader, who will be the leader of opposition in the state Assembly.

Marandi is, presently, maintaining a distance from the media and is not talking on any issues. Marandi’s party, the JVM-P which has three legislators, including Babulal has, however, extended support to the JMM-led Hemant Soren government in the state. Marandi has not either denied the media reports that he will join the BJP in the coming days.

Sources in the BJP say that Marandi may join the party before January 30. He could be elected as the legislative party leader or elevated as president of the state BJP. Lakshman Giluwa had resigned as the state chief after the Assembly poll defeat.

The JVM-P’s two legislators Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey will not join the BJP at any cost, say sources. Bandhu has leaning for the Congress and he is close with the Christian Missionaries.

The option before Marandi is to wither merge his JVM-P with the BJP or join the BJP. Marandi has dissolved all the committees of his party in the state.

Earlier, Marandi was an RSS worker. He had defeated the JMM president Shibu Soren in 1998 Lok Sabha poll from the Dumkla seat. Dumka falls under Santhal Pargana which is bastion of the JMM.

Marandi became the first chief minister of Jharkhand in 2000 when state was carved out from Bihar. He resigned from the post after alliance partner ministers revolted against him.

In 2004, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Koderma seat.

He quit the BJP in 2006 and formed the JVM-P. JVM-P won 11 seats in 2009 Assembly and eight in 2014. Six of the eight JVM-P legislators defected to the BJP in January 2015. In 2019 Assembly poll, the JVM-P won only three seats.

Marandi has a clean image. The BJP has been trying to bring him back to the party since 2014 Assembly polls.

After the 2019 Assembly poll, Marandi seems to have realised that his party would never become a force in the state, and therefore, seems to be weighing the options of taking up the BJP invitation to join the party.

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