Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leaders continued to be divided over the support to Rashtriya Janta Dal's (RJD) nominee Prem Chand Gupta, after it had already announced the candidature of JMM MLA’s Sudhir Mahto’s widow Savita Mahto a few days earlier. Three influential MLAs, all belonging to the Mahto caste, submitted their resignation to party leader Shibu Soren protesting the “humiliation of a martyr's widow” and terming Mr Gupta, who is a businessman from Haryana, an “outsider.”
Mr. Gupta represented Bihar in the Rajya Sabha from RJD in the previous term. Before entering politics, he lived in Hong Kong and where he owned a watch business. Mr. Gupta is an important fund-raiser for the RJD, say party leaders. Savita Mahto is the widow of JMM MLA Sudhir Mahto who died of cardiac arrest in January. If the three MLAs — former Revenue Minister Mathura Prasad Mahto (Tundi), Jagarnath Mahto (Dumri), and VV Mahto (Bahragorha) — insist on their resignations being accepted, the JMM-Congress-RJD coalition’s strength will fall from 43 to 40 in the 82-member Assembly, reducing the seven month-old government to a minority. At the same time, the Hemant Soren’s government has little choice but to back the RJD candidate since Congress, in negotiation with the RJD for an alliance in Bihar, has announced its support for the RJD nominee. The JMM has 18 MLAs and is supported by the Congress’ 13 and the RJD’s six MLAs, along with seven Independents. The party has shown disrespect to a family that made sacrifices for the Jharkhand movement. Why have they succumbed to coalition partners when they had already announced Savita Mahto’s name? This is an insult to her when she was still grieving from her husband's death a few days ago,” said Mathura Prasad Mahto.