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Will BJP be able to defeat Shibu Soren in his last election?

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New Delhi, May 14: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Supremo Shibu Soren is probably fighting his last Lok Sabha election from Dumka, a seat currently held by him. Voting will be conducted in this constituency on May 19, the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has once again fielded Sunil Soren, former JMM leader and disciple of Shibu Soren, from the VIP seat.In 2014, Shibu Soren a.k.a. Guruji defeated Sunil Soren by receiving 37.20 per cent of the votes cast in this constituency.

Guruji has won the seat eight times since 1980. He also thrice served as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, first in 2005 for 10 days, then from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2009 to 2010. He was also the Union Coal Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, which came to power in 2004. The BJP is leaving no stone unturned to defeat 75-year-old Guruji in his last Lok Sabha election. On the other hand, the JMM cadres are determined to ensure victory for their supreme leader as a political farewell. This constituency is reserved for the candidates belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and covers the entire Jamtara district and parts of Dumka and Deoghar districts. It has six Assembly constituencies: Sikaripara, Nala, Jamtara, Sarath, Dumka, and Jama. Out of these, three are with the JMM, two with the BJP and one with the Congress. This time the total number of electorates is: 13,67,141. The strength of Shibu Soren could be gauged by a fact that his votes increased from 2,08,518 in 2009 Lok Sabha elections to 3,35,815 in 2014 General elections. Votes of Shibu Soren had increased despite the fact that the fight was made triangular by former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) chief Babulal Marandi, who had won the seat as a BJP candidate in 1998 and 1999. He had secured 1,58,122 votes in 2014. However, this time the JVM is a part of the grand alliance and is with the JMM, so chances are that this time his votes will be shifted to Shibu Soren. Another interesting aspect is that votes of Sunil Soren also increased from 1,89,706 in 2009 to 2,96,785 in 2014. However, it will not be a cakewalk for the BJP to defeat Shibu Soren as he enjoys immense popularity among the Adiwasis (tribals), who are the largest vote bank in Dumka. “There are more than 50 percent tribal voters in Dumka, Jama and Shikarpara assembly constituencies. The Nala assembly of Jamtara district is also tribal dominated. There are 30 percent tribal voters in Jamtara and Sarath assembly constituencies. These tribals are the main strength of the JMM and Guruji has been winning Dumka parliamentary seat due to these voters,” a Ranchi based political analyst tells OneIndia. This is a fact that corruption and even murder cases against Shibu Soren couldn’t dent his popularity among the tribals, adds the analyst. Shibu Soren had to step down as the Union Coal Minister in the Manmohan Singh government on July 24, 2004 following an arrest warrant in his name in 1975 Chirudih case in which 10 people, including 09 Muslims, were killed in a clash between tribals and Muslims. After getting bail, he was given back coal portfolio in November 2004. He had to again quit as Coal Minister in 2006 after a Delhi court found him guilty in the murder of his private secretary Shashi Nath Jha. But the Delhi High Court on August 23, 2007, set aside the lower court order and acquitted him. The CBI chargesheet stated that Jha’s knowledge of the reported deal between the Congress and the JMM to save the Narasimha Rao government during the July 1993 no-confidence motion was the main motive behind the murder. The analyst predicts that Shibu Soren will again emerge as victorious.

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