The Congress and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) of the former Chief Minister, Babu Lal Marandi, on Friday announced their decision to contest the State Assembly elections in alliance in all but six of the 81 seats.

In the six seats on which no understanding could be reached, the two parties agreed to disagree and engage in friendly fights. Of the remaining seats, the Congress will contest 56 and the JVM 19.

Congress in-charge of Jharkhand K. Keshav Rao said the alliance would offer the promise of a clean and stable government to the State, which has been plagued by instability since it was carved out of Bihar in 2000. “The State has had six Chief Ministers in eight years.” Besides a war on corruption, the agenda would include inclusive development.

This was echoed by Mr. Marandi, who addressed the media at the Congress headquarters along with Mr. Rao.

As to whether he would leave the Congress stables and return to the Bharatiya Janata Party should it be within striking distance of power, Mr. Marandi said he was in this alliance on the promise of offering a clean government, and switching sides post-poll would be a negation of that commitment.

On how the Congress could speak of stability after being partner of instability in the State by propping up an independent-led government, party spokesman Manish Tiwari said: “We extended support with the best of intentions on the hope that he would deliver on the promise of development.”

Contentious seats

The six contentious seats where the two parties will be locked in battle are: Barkatha, Bokaro, Baghmara, Madhupur, Silli and Ichagarh. In these seats, both parties had either announced candidates or had high stakes, as a result of which neither side could concede. A similar problem existed in Jagannathpur and Nala, but the Congress decided to withdraw its candidate from the former and the JVM from the latter.

The alliance was stitched up over the last 24 hours after Mr. Marandi returned to the capital on Thursday for a last-minute effort to turn his support for the UPA at the Centre into a pre-poll tie-up in the State.

Initially, Mr. Marandi was unwilling to settle for less than 31 seats and averse to the idea of friendly fights, resulting in the breakdown of alliance talks last weekend.

In between, the two parties announced candidates, with the Congress finalising candidates for 50 seats — 26 in the first round on Tuesday after which talks reopened with the JVM, and another 24 on Wednesday night. A smaller list of three candidates was cleared on Friday afternoon.