The campaign will be in tribal-dominated districts
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren and Chief Minister Hemant Soren will begin campaigning for Lok Sabha elections in neighbouring States this month.
The party JMM, an alliance partner of the Congress in Jharkhand, is planning a week-long campaign in tribal-dominated districts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and West Bengal. “We will travel to adjoining districts in other States. We believe in areas which have a significant tribal population, especially Santhal population, a campaign led by Guruji [Shibu Soren] will have a lot of impact,” said JMM leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjeev Kumar. “The party is yet to finalise some details including the districts where the party will nominate its own candidate and districts in which our campaign will be to support the Congress candidate. We have contested Assembly elections successfully in States like Odisha before. In tribal areas where the Congress may have lost to other parties such as BJP by a narrow margin, Guruji's presence will contribute significantly to the Congress' advantage,” he added.
The JMM's support to the Congress candidates and nomination of its representatives in neighbouring States was an essential part of a pact between the two parties last year, say party leaders. After the JMM withdrew support to the BJP-led coalition government, the Congress had stayed away despite JMM leaders attempting to negotiate to form a coalition government in the State with the national party's support. The JMM's offer to campaign and nominate candidates in tribal pockets in Chhattisgarh and Odisha was a key factor in the Congress agreeing to form a government led by JMM in Jharkhand. The Congress added West Bengal to the two States suggested earlier by JMM, say senior party leaders.
“In Odisha we may campaign in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Balasore, in Chattisgarh in Sarguja and Jashpur, and some districts in northern and southern parts of West bengal as well. We will finalise the districts after a party meeting this week,” said JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya.