RANCHI: The , which is currently having a tug-of-war with the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha – Prajatantrik () for rights to field candidate in the parliamentary seat in the opposition , stares at a depleting footprint in Santhal Pargana region, if it loses the fight.

Party insiders said if they eventually yield Godda to JVM-P, the grand old party will have no presence in the tribal bastion, which plays a key role in the electoral politics of the state. When it parted ways with the JMM just ahead of the 2014 state assembly polls, Congress drew strength from its tribal support and defeated the Shibu Soren-led group to clinch three out of 18 assembly seats in Santhal Pargana.

“Those three seats — Pakur, Jarmundi and Jamtara — all had sitting JMM legislators then. This itself showed how Congress improved on its organisational framework and won over the people,” a senior Congress leader in Ranchi said. “It will not be right to give up Godda because we have a strong base there and if we give up, Congress will not have any stake in Santhal Pargana,” he added. Of the three MP seats in Santhal, the remaining Dumka and Rajmahal will be in JMM’s kitty in the alliance due to their sitting MPs Shibu Soren and Vijay Kumar Hansdak.

While Congress aims to field its veteran Furkan Ansari from Godda, JVM-P has demanded the seat to field its general secretary Pradeep Yadav, who was at the fore-front of the anti-land acquisition agitation for the Adani Group’s proposed thermal power project.

Meanwhile, Congress has turned its attention towards Santhal Pargana in the build-up to this year’s polls. Senior leaders will hold a public meeting in Deoghar on February 13 to whip up support. But for the state leadership, led by state president Ajoy Kumar, Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh and his deputy Umang Singhar, it will be a tough ask to keep the morale of party workers high amid the continuing uncertainty of the seat.

“The Deoghar rally, which comes under Godda parliamentary segment, will come as a morale booster for our functionaries in Santhal Pargana. We are very much hopeful that little hitches will be sorted and mahagatbandhan will go to polls as a team,” state Congress spokesperson Lal Kishore Shahdeo said.

All eyes will be on Kumar, Singhar and Singh when they arrive in Ranchi on Tuesday ahead of the Deoghar rally. Though telephonic discussions are underway, the trio is likely to meet JVM-P in an effort to pacify him.

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