Hemant Soren lends his weight to Trinamool Congress, will campaign in West Bengal
After JMM decided against putting up candidates in West Bengal, there are reports that the Jharkhand chief minister will be campaigning in Bengal districts bordering Jharkhand
The decision by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to stay away from the forthcoming Assembly poll in West Bengal and instead extend support to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) has boosted electoral prospects of TMC. Working President of JMM and Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren had unequivocally pulled out of the Bengal fray when he stated in New Delhi that he would support ‘Didi’ in the Assembly election.
Initially, JMM sources had indicated that the party would be contesting in some of the 30 or 40 Bengal constituencies adjacent to Jharkhand. JMM spokesperson and General Secretary, Supriyo Bhattacharya, had indicated as much and said that in these constituencies JMM had sizeable support among Adivasis and Mahatos. However, after Mamata Banerjee announced the list of party candidates for 291 seats, JMM appears to have had second thoughts. JMM’s decision seemed to be also prompted by its anxiety to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power in the neighbouring state.
JMM which heads the coalition government in Jharkhand in alliance with Congress and RJD, possibly didn’t want to ruffle more feathers in the neighbouring states. Congress is contesting the Bengal poll in alliance with the Left. Significantly, Hemant Soren had addressed a public meeting in Jhargram in West Bengal and pointed out the political presence of JMM in Jungle Mahal districts of Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapur which were going to polls on March 27 and April 1 in the first and second phases. Mamata Banerji however requested Soren to campaign for her in the poll-bound state and the CM acceded to the request.
Sources said that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and the RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav who were recently in Ranchi also persuaded Soren to back Mamata Banerji and not field JMM candidates in West Bengal. The poll-bound state is witnessing a high-stakes battle between ruling TMC and the BJP with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee facing a tough challenge amidst a series of defections to the saffron party.
In the 2016 assembly polls, TMC had come to power by bagging 211 of the 294 seats. Congress had won 44 seats and the CPM 26 seats. The BJP could win only 3 seats then.