Ranchi: Former Ajsu Party leader Ganga Narayan Singh formally joined the BJP on Monday, with less than a month to go for the Madhupur assembly bypoll scheduled on April 17.
Singh’s name was among a list of BJP probables for the Madhupur seat, which was recommended by the party’s state election committee to the central leadership last week.
Singh had fought from Madhupur on an Ajsu Party ticket in 2019 and came third. JMM’s Haji Hussain Ansari had won that election, while BJP’s Raj Paliwar finished runner-up. The seat fell vacant after the death of Ansari in October last year.
Singh joined BJP in a low-key ceremony in the presence of former chief minister Babulal Marandi and other senior office-bearers of the party. Marandi said, “The party will get additional strength in Deoghar with the entry of Ganga Narayan Singh.” Singh said: “I feel proud to be accepted by the BJP and will work towards fulfilling the party’s vision in service of the people.”
A BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity: “Singh had secured over 40,000 votes in 2019 solely on his own as Ajsu Party didn’t have much base in Madhupur. So, there is a feeling in the party that if he is fielded on a BJP ticket, we can have an immediate headway of 40,000 votes and the rest required to defeat the JMM can be garnered through our election machinery.”
While Ajsu Party had initially staked claim to the Madhupur seat, BJP insiders said that it backed out as the Sudesh Mahto-led outfit was allowed to contest the Baghmundi seat in West Bengal under the banner of NDA. In the last assembly election, both the parties fought separately after snapping their alliance over a failed seat-sharing deal. The division of NDA votes backfired, making way for the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance to form the government. Ajsu Party later returned to the NDA fold before last year’s Rajya Sabha elections in the state.
“The BJP and the Ajsu Party are natural allies in Jharkhand and we will stay united to fight the wrong politics of the Hemant Soren-led government,” state BJP president Deepak Prakash said.
This will be the third bypoll since the ruling alliance came to power in December 2019. In 2020, JMM clinched Dumka and Congress retained Barhait. Marandi, however, said that the contest for Madhupur is wide open. “BJP is sure of winning this seat,” he said.
The JMM-Congress-RJD coalition will field Hafizul Ansari, the son of Haji Hussain Ansari, as its candidate. Ansari will file his nomination on March 25.
The Congress took a dig at Singh’s induction into the BJP. “While the BJP claims to be the world’s largest party, but it is banking on party hoppers in every election. In West Bengal, the party is relying on turncoats and it is doing the same in Madhupur,” Congress’s co-working president Rajesh Thakur said.