Ex-colleague Saryu Rai dares Raghubar Das in his very own seat

Jharkhand Minister and senior BJP leader Saryu Rai flashes the victory sign with party supporters after filing nomination for the forthcoming Assembly election, in Jamshedpur.   | Photo Credit: PTI

In the electoral contest in Jharkhand, one seat that has captured the attention of the entire State is Jamshedpur (East), Chief Minister Raghubar Das’s constituency — he faces a challenge from former Minister in his own government and BJP veteran Saryu Rai.

Mr. Rai (68), considered an anti-corruption crusader who is credited with exposing scams that led to the conviction of at least three Chief Ministers — Jagannath Mishra, Lalu Prasad and Madhu Koda, said he waited till his name remained absent from the BJP’s fourth list of candidates, before challenging the party and Mr. Das. He usually contests from Jamshedpur (West), but decided that since he was to be denied ticket for raising issues related to alleged corruption in Mr. Das’s government, he would challenge Mr. Das more directly. Associated with the RSS since 1962 and formally a part of the BJP after the Emergency, it has been a bitter parting of ways for him.

That he waited five long years to leave a government he is now attacking is a question that is often put to him. “Whether I left the BJP or it threw me out is still a question,” he told The Hindu.

“I have raised issues regarding corruption in the Raghubar Das government within party fora and even spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017. The Prime Minister was very responsive and asked me to share my concerns with the party organisation. Party president Amit Shah did try to patch things up between me and Raghubar Das but it didn’t last long. After waiting and being “rewarded” with the humiliation of having been denied a ticket, I walked out. As Mahatma Gandhi said, a time comes when disobedience to the law becomes a duty,” he said.

Mr. Rai has gained the support of the Janata Dal (U) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), with the latter leaving its own ally, the Congress’ candidate, Gourav Vallabh, high and dry. He is also receiving major support in his campaign from what is euphemistically being termed the “old BJP” or those in the State unit who felt slighted by Mr. Das’s new dispensation that has led to the sidelining of several old leaders and with 13 sitting MLAs out of 37 being dropped from the BJP list. Both finance and men are being provided by the disgruntled party men in the city.

Jamshedpur (East) is a cosmopolitan constituency, with Mr. Das considered the local boy made good (his father was a conductor with the Tata Group, who are considered the patron saints of the city). His record on security and providing the stability of running a full term government are points in his favour. Jharkhand saw 8 Chief Ministers in 14 years of its formation, before Mr. Das’s tenure.

His rise to the chief ministership, however, has also raised concerns over the sense of consequence displayed by his immediate family in the affairs of the constituency.

Mr. Modi, who remains immensely popular in the State, is set to address a campaign rally in Jamshedpur on December 3. “Whatever the issues against Raghubar Das, after Modiji’s rally, he will win,” said Rajesh Singh, a vegetable vendor in Bistupur.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 9:51:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/jharkhand/ex-colleague-saryu-rai-dares-raghubar-das-in-his-very-own-seat/article30115114.ece

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