'Op Congress' in Jharkhand in response to 'Op Kamal'

New Delhi (IANS) Even as a political tug of war is on in the run-up to the June 19 Rajya Sabha biennial elections, the Congress is trying to outmaneuver the BJP to win two seats in the Upper House of Parliament from Jharkhand.

One candidate each from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Congress and BJP are in the fray -- Shibu Soren of JMM, Shahzada Anwar of Congress, and Deepak Prakash of BJP.

Jharkhand is one state where the Congress is trying to lure Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs to vote for Anwar.

Incharge of Congress affairs RPN Singh told IANS: "we are hopeful that the MLAs will vote as per their conscience and support our candidate."

Though Singh said that the Congress was short of numbers, sources say that many BJP and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) MLAs are in touch with the party and will help give a befitting reply to the BJP in the state.

The first preference votes of JMM-Congress alliance will go to Shibu Soren and the remaining to the Congress candidate. The BJP has 25 MLAs as against 27 votes required for victory.

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The Congress has 17 MLAs and JMM 29 MLAs, and also the support of Nationalist Congress Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the party may also get the support of Independents. The party hopes to get Communist Party of India-ML support which has one MLA. In case the AJSU members tilt towards the ruling combine, the BJP candidate will face a tough time.

The polling for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand has been necessitated as the tenure of RJD's Prem Chand Gupta and Independent Parimal Nathwani ended in April.

Two seats in the 82-member Assembly are vacant, while the lone nominated MLA has no voting right in the Rajya Sabha elections. So, the effective strength is 79.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren had vacated Dumka seat after winning but retained Barhait seat. The Bermo Assembly seat fell vacant after senior Congress MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh died last month.

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