Ranchi: The second phase of Jharkhand Assembly vote in 20 seats on December 7 will decide the fate of many political heavyweights, but the centre for attraction is Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who is contesting from Jamshedpur East seat. He is challenged by his former cabinet colleague Saryu Rai and Congress spokesperson Gaurabh Vallabh.
Raghubar Das has been winning this seat since 1995, and in 2014, he had defeated Congress candidate Anand Bihari Dubey, securing 1,03,427 votes.
Saryu Rai, an MLA from the Jamshedpur West, quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the party withheld his nomination till the last phase of ticket distribution. Rai quit both the Assembly and the cabinet to contest against Das.
Apart from Chief Minister and Saryu Rai, there are more than half a dozen VVIP candidates including Speaker Dinesh Oraon, Urban Development Minister Neelkanth Singh Munda, Water Resources Minister Ramchandra Sahi and state BJP chief Laxman Giluwa.
The second phase is crucial for both the BJP and the Congress-JMM alliance. The JMM is striving hard to protect its bastion from the onslaught of the BJP.
Of the 20 seats in the second phase, 14 comes in the Kolhan division while the rest of six constituencies fall under the South Chottanagpur division. Kolhan is a stronghold of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), as the latter had won eight-seat in 2014 assembly polls.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Jamshedpur and praising the Raghubar Das asked people to choose a stable government, adding "In Gujarat, I was Chief Minister for 13 years, and Jharkhand had 10 Chief Ministers in the last 15 years."
Targeting the Congress-JMM alliance, Modi said it had been formed to plunder the natural resources of the state, and termed the Mahagathbandhan as corrupt. Modi's rallies in Khunti and Jamshedpur hold significance as voting in the second phase may make or mar the BJP's prospects.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP acting chief JP Nadda have also addressed poll rallies in the state, while Congress party has deputed its star campaigner Rahul Gandhi for the campaign in this phase.
Among the key constituencies, Neelkanth Singh Munda is eyeing the fifth term from Khunti. In 2014 polls, he had defeated Jidan Horro of the JMM, but this time he is facing Sushil Pahan of the JMM and Dayamani Barla of the JVM.
From Sisai, Speaker Dinesh Oraon, who had won this seat in 2000 and 2014, is contesting against the JMM-Congress candidate Jigga Susaran Horo and Loharmine Oran of the JVM.
From Chakardharpur, state BJP chief Laxman Giluwa is facing a tough challenge from the AJSU and the JMM, despite representing this seat in the past.
Residents of 86 Basti ask a tough question to Raghubar Das
In Jamshedpur East, residents of 86 unauthorised colonies are putting a tough question to him -- when will they get the rights of their land? The residents of the colonies, popularly known as 86 Basti, have been struggling to get the rights of their land for the past 20 years.
The colonies, covering a total of 1,700 acres of land, decide the fate of candidates in every election as their residents constitute almost 80 per cent of total votes in the constituency. Several politicians have reached the Assembly from this seat but the wait of residents of 86 Basti get ownership rights continues to be endless.
Even Chief Minister Raghbar Das won his first election by promising to ensure the ownership rights to the residents. The residents, however, are hopeful to get the ownership rights for their land someday.
(With Agency Inputs)