The bye-election for Mandar by-poll is becoming tougher as the seat will witness a triangular contest after BJP leader Deo Kumar Dhan filing the nomination paper as independent candidate. Dhan has filed the nomination as Independent candidate after BJP decided to field its 2014 MLA Gangotri Kujur as party candidate.
The Congress has fielded Shilpa Neha Tirkey daughter of former Mandar MLA Bandhu Tirkey. In 2019, BJP had denied ticket to its sitting MLA and had fielded Dhan as party candidate, but he lost to then JVM candidate Bandhu Tirkey by more than 23,000 votes. The Congress in the 2019 election was in fifth position, but this time the party is giving stiff challenge due to Bandhu Tirkey.
This by-election, it is believed to be a tough contest between Congress, BJP and independent Dev Kumar Dhan. A total of 19 candidates are in the fray. However, the picture on number of candidates will be cleared after withdrawal dates of candidates’ ends.
The bypoll is also a litmus test for both ruling alliance and BJP. If Congress wins the bypoll it will be a victory for the ruling coalition to win all the bypoll elections after the Hemant Soren government comes to power in 2019. However, if BJP wins the election it will give boost to BJP with the saffron party trying to set a referendum that people are unhappy with the ruling alliance government.
Also, for the first time in the tenure of the BJP Hemant government, the BJP will taste victory in a bye-election.
The seat is tribal reserved seat with tribal Sarna population around 1.75 lakh, followed by Hindu population with around 74,000. The seat has also sizeable Muslim population as there are 70,000 Muslim. The seat, having several missionaries, has around 30,000 Christian.
Sources said that though Tirkey is new in electoral contest her father Bandhu Tirkey is strong in the area. BJP’s Kujur who had won the seat in 2014 has been working hard in the area.
Despite being denied ticket from the party, Kujur hogged limelight in August 2020, after she collected the soil from Sarna sthals and sent it for Bhumi Pujan for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. An FIR was lodged against her and one Depeswar Nath Mishra at Ranchi’s Chanho police station.
Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) has accused Kujur and others of stealing soil from a religious tribal place for Ram temple construction in Ayodhya without the consent of Pahan (local priest). Kujur, however, denied the allegation, terming it as a political vendetta.
Lifting of soil from ‘Sarna Sthal’ (common religious place in tribal villages) all over Jharkhand to use it in ‘bhumi pujan’ for construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhaya had sparked controversy among tribal communities. Mandar is supposed to be a stronghold of Congress. From 1957 the party continuously kept on winning elections one after another five times. After that, Bandhu Tirkey became powerful. He won from there as UGDP, JJM, and JVM candidate.