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JMM story: One on stretcher, one in handcuffs

JMM story: One on stretcher, one in handcuffs

Author: Anupam Sheshank
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 19, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/177168/JMM-story-One-on-stretcher-one-in-handcuffs.html

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which has always been in news for all wrong reasons, will again be in the news when its two MPs from Dumka and Palamu will reach Parliament for the oath-taking ceremony.

Party supremo Shibu Soren, popularly known as Guruji - who is not keeping well for the last couple of months and has been in and out of hospital ever since he lost the important Tamar bypoll in January - is feared to reach Parliament on a stretcher or on a wheelchair. The other MP, Maoist-turned-politician Kameshwar Baitha will go from Saharsa jail in Bihar to Delhi in handcuffs.

"Guruji has been discharged from the hospital last week and is recuperating in his Bokaro residence. He is very weak and needs someone's help to walk," says a JMM functionary.

While Guruji had created a record of sorts when he became the second or third Chief Minister to have ever lost a by-election, Baitha, is probably the only person in the country to have won the 2009 Lok Sabha poll from jail. He won the Palamu seat with a margin of over 23,000 votes. This time Guruji contested successfully from Dumka as well as Jamtara Assembly constituency.

A history-sheeter, chargesheeted in 11 of 18 cases, including murder and attempt to murder, Baitha was the runner up in the 2007 Palamu bypoll, which he contested on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. Fighting the election from the Garhwa prison, he won the seat this time.

Compared to other dons who were either not permitted by the judiciary to contest the Lok Sabha poll or who lost the election, 56-year-old Baitha was lucky this time. While RJD strongman Shahabuddin, former MPs Anand Mohan, Rakesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav were not allowed to contest and their wives fared badly at the hustings, jailed Samajwadi Party leader Atiq Ahmad lost this time.

Mohammad Iqbal Jan, lodged in Tihar Jail, unsuccessfully contested the election from Baramulla on Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) ticket.

The JMM had first hogged the national limelight when four of its MPs - Shibu Soren, Suraj Mandal, Shailendra Mahto and Simon Marandi - were named in the bribery case to save the PV Narasimha Rao Government and again when its party chief Shibu Soren, an ally of the UPA, completely disappeared just before the important trust vote after the nuclear deal.

And while talking about JMM MPs, how can one forget the party's former MP Shailendra Mahto? He had represented the Jamshedpur parliamentary constituency twice, but was defeated by his political disciple Arjun Munda this time.

It is Mahto who is credited with bringing JMM leader Arjun Munda to the BJP fold. Mahto, who was also in the BJP, contested on AJSU ticket this time and got 37,400 votes compared to his chela Arjun Munda who got over 3.20 lakh votes.

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