Ranchi, Feb. 6: The JMM received a jolt today when 123 party workers led by its central committee member Shivlal Mahto tendered their resignations, with the likelihood of soon joining rival JVM.
Though Mahto maintained he would soon hold a meeting with his supporters to discuss future strategies, senior JVM leaders were actively involved in organising news conferences.
JVM spokesman Saroj Singh claimed that heavyweights from various parties would be joining the party in coming days.
"Many former MLAs and MPs from different parties are eager to try their luck in the coming elections with our party ticket. There will be tremors in the leading parties in Jharkhand once the suspended Assembly is dissolved. Just wait and watch," Singh commented.
Mahto, who led the defection today, was associated with JMM for 22 years. He contested the Hazaribagh Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and secured nearly 54,000 votes. BJP nominee Yashwant Sinha clinched the seat.
Incidentally, the JMM then had an alliance with the Congress.
But JMM president Shibu Soren's eldest son Late Durga Soren fielded Mahto reportedly at the behest of Godda MP Nishikant Dubey.
Earlier, Mahto had twice fought for the Barkagaon MLA seat unsuccessfully 'in 2000 on a JMM ticket and in 2005 as an Independent, securing a sizeable number of votes. He was also actively associated with several other organisations and trade unions, having participated in the Jharkhand statehood movement as well.
Now, he feels the JMM is ignoring all those who made sacrifices for a separate Jharkhand.
Mahto, however, remained evasive when asked whether he was unhappy with the JMM's decision to project Hemant Soren as its chief ministerial candidate.
"There is no point talking about the home (party) that I have already left. But whatever is happening in the JMM is really very unfortunate. Now, we have our own bigger challenges ahead," he added.
JMM central committee member Supriyo Bhattacharya said that desertions by Mahto and his associates would not affect the health of the party organisation. In fact, Mahto decided to quit after sensing that the JMM might not grant him a ticket to contest the coming Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha elections, he added.
"He had also contested the 2005 Vidhan Sabha elections as a rebel candidate. It is good that such persons are leaving us now. Otherwise, desertions within the party fold before elections always cause problems," Bhattacharya argued.