Ranchi, March 31 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is doing all he can to win the Littipara assembly by-election to deal a blow to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
And the JMM is desperate to retain the seat, until now known as its stronghold.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Minister has been camping in the constituency since Wednesday and is likely to return to Ranchi on Saturday.
The election assumes significance as it is taking place after the Jharkhand government amended the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act.
After the amendments, the agricultural land can be used for non-farming purposes too and land in the area can be acquired for development work.
The entire opposition and even the BJP ally, the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), have opposed the amendments.
Till Friday, Raghubar Das had addressed 12 rallies in the constituency. More than half a dozen ministers are also campaigning.
The election is due on April 9 and the result will be declared two days later.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of a bridge over the Ganga river in Sahebganj district, which falls in Santhal Pargana.
The JMM has alleged that Modi’s programme has been deliberately scheduled to influence the voters.
“Modi will distribute free mobile phones and announce new projects. We have written to the Election Commission,” said JMM General Secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya.
Ironically, the Chief Minister has been quoting JMM chief Shibu Soren, popularly known as Guruji, to seek votes.
“I have fulfilled the dream of Guruji by amending the money lending law. Hemant Soren, his son, did not end money lending when he was the Chief Minister.
“The JMM has held the seat for the last 40 years but did nothing for the welfare of the people.”
Hemant Soren has in turn accused the Chief Minister of trying to copy his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath Yogi.
“And Raghubar is using Shibu Soren’s name to get mileage.”
The BJP has fielded Hemlal Murmu, who was one of the top leaders of the JMM till 2014.
Political experts say the Chief Minister is trying to snatch the JMM seat to send a message that his move to amend the land acts has been accepted by the tribal people.
The JMM has fielded senior party leader Simon Marandi. The seat fell vacant in January after JMM legislator Anil Murmu died.