Vijay Goel sent as BJP observer to Jharkhand RS election

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Ranchi, Mar 25 (UNI) Amid reports of heavy horse-trading in the March 26 biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand, the BJP high command rushed its all India Secretary and former Union Minister Vijay Goel to Ranchi to ensure that its flock remained together and BJP nominee Jaiprakash Narain Singh wins one of the two seats.

In the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, BJP has 24 votes, Congress 9, JMM 17, RJD 7, JD(U), CPI, Forward Bloc and Marxists 4 each, AJSU 2, UGDP 2, Nationalist Congress Party 1 and Independents 4 besides 5 suspended BJP legislators owing allegiance to former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi and Speaker Inderjit Namdhari.

With this arithmetic, any candidate securing 28 votes will be a winner.

Others in the fray are Mr Kishori Lal, former MP from Delhi, noted advocate R K Anand (both claiming to be JMM nominees) and one Independent, Mr Parimal Motwani, who is being backed by an industrial house.

Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken is already here as Congress incharge of Jharkhand. The Congress has not yet disclosed its official nominee, but reports are that either Mr Kishori Lal or Mr Anand will be made the Congress candidate before the election scheduled for tomorrow. Both Mr Goel and Mr Maken belong to Delhi and often faced each other in elections.

Mr Goel, sources said, yesterday held a meeting with BJP and JD(U) legislators. The meeting was attended by all NDA legislators who were told to remain united and ensure victory for the official candidate. BJP incharge of Jharkhand Karuna Shukla and former Chief Minister Arjun Munda were also present at the meeting.

Mr Goel also called on Mr Ajay Kumar, Secretary in the Election Commission, who is to oversee the election. Mr Goel is understood to have urged him to enforce open voting as per the amendment made in the Election Law in 2003-2004 during the NDA regime. This, he insisted, would curb horse-trading of MLAs to a great extent.

When Mr Goel was approached on phone, he said he was seeking the support of the Independents and even the suspended BJP legislators to ensure a comfortable victory for the BJP candidate.

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