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Big blow to JVM as 7 MLAs join BJP

Separate Jharkhand’s first chief minister Babulal Marandi, who quit disenchanted with the BJP in 2006, received a jolt to his plans to cultivate a credible alternative to both the BJP and the ruling JMM on Thursday when seven of his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s MLAs quit to join the saffron party. This also triggers fresh alignment of political forces before the assembly elections likely by the end of this year.

“Four JVM MLAs have joined BJP in the presence of party chief Amit Shah. Three more are likely to follow suit on Saturday,” said Jharkhand BJP’s heavyweight Arjun Munda. The state’s politicians have accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolution to develop India and Jharkhand, he said. “We welcome everyone who wants to take Jharkhand on the path of growth,” he added.

The four JVM turncoats are Samresh Singh of Bokaro, Nirbhay Kumar Shahabadi of Giridih, Jai Prakash Bhokta of Simariya and Chadrika Mehta of Jamua, Giridih. BJP’s Jharkhand chief Ravindra Rai said, “Several MLAs from JVM are in touch with our leaders. You’ll soon get to know how many of them have taken the plunge.”

If seven MLAs indeed cross over by Saturday, BJP’s numbers in the assembly will swell to 24 in a House of 81. JMM, RJD and Congress as UPA have 43 MLAs and the government is presently not in danger.

A stoic JVM chief Babulal Marandi said, “Defections are nothing new. It happens in every political party. My focus will be on how JVM can help people in Jharkhand have a better life.” He also ruled out JVM’s merger with BJP. “One gets good sleep in his own house. So there is no question of merging JVM with BJP,” he said, addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here. He also ruled out forming an alliance with BJP during assembly polls.

Sources said Dullu Mahto from Baghmara, Fulchand Mandal from Sindri and Nizamuddin Ansari from Dhanbar (Giridih) were the other likely JVM MLAs to desert Marandi. The back-to-back defections are bound to hit the party hard, which is yet to recover from the Lok Sabha drubbing. A BJP MLA said, “Not seven, a total of nine MLAs would join BJP before assembly polls.”

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