RJD extends support to Cong in Jharkhand RS polls

The RJD extended support to the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand on May 3.

New Delhi: The RJD on Monday extended support to the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand on May 3, giving a shot in the arm to the party which is hoping to retain a seat from the state.

"We will support Congress candidate Pradip Balmuchu for Rajya Sabha election in Jharkhand," RJD chief Lalu Prasad said.

Congress has 13 MLAs while its alliance partner Babulal Marandi`s JVM (P) has 11 MLAs and Lalu Prasad`s RJD has five members in the 80-member House.

With candidates from three parties BJP, JMM and Congress in the fray, a candidate requires the support of 27 members to win a Rajya Sabha seat from the state.

If JVM (P) sticks with its decision of abstaining, the total number of votes to be polled in the RS election will 69 and hence a candidate with 24 votes can emerge victorious.

Marandi`s party has so far remained firm on abstaining from voting in the elections.

Congress candidate Balmuchu is Jharkhand PCC chief.

A senior party leader speaking on condition of anonymity said that last minute efforts are on to get the support of JVM (P) and hoped the alliance partner would not be taking a course that ends up benefiting the Opposition BJP-JMM.

JVM (P) is unhappy with the Congress for not supporting its candidate Pravin Singh this time on the pretext that it had supported Congress candidate in 2008.

"We are confident of winning the seat. We will win," said a senior Congress leader from the state Rajendra Prasad Singh.

Both BJP and JMM have 18 members each in the Assembly with their alliance partners AJSU and JD-U having five and two members respectively.

JMM has also fielded a candidate Sanjiv Kumar even as senior BJP leader SS Ahluwalia is contesting the seat.

The term of office of two members of the Council of States elected from Jharkhand -- Ahluwalia from BJP and Mabel Rebello from Congress -- expired on April 2, 2012.

While securing the JVM (P) support is crucial for
Congress to win the seat, AJSU has become a game changer in the NDA camp in Jharkhand. Its five votes can tilt the balance in the favour of either the JMM or the BJP.

If BJP and JMM agree on a common candidate, it will be a breather for Congress as in that case, it can win the one seat even without JVM (P) support as only two candidates will be left in the fray to fill two vacancies.

Jharkhand Rajya Sabha poll was earlier countermanded following allegations of horse trading.

The BJP had not fielded any candidate in the March 30 Rajya Sabha pollS from the state that was countermanded after Rs 2.15 crore was seized from a vehicle allegedly belonging to Independent candidate RK Agarwal.

Though Ahluwalia is the outgoing MP from this state, his name was not announced earlier and the BJP had decided to support an independent Anshuman Mishra, a decision that was later dropped amid controversies within the party.

Efforts are on from the BJP side now to convince the JMM to drop its candidate.


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