If the BJP does not nominate him to any seat this Assembly election, Jharkhand’s Food Supply Minister Saryu Rai will contest from Jamshedpur, he has declared in an open act of defiance. He has announced he will contest the election from not one or two seats.
Older allies in the NDA, the AJSU and LJP, have already parted ways in Jharkhand, adding to the BJP’s woes as the ruling party was too wary of parting with seats it thought it could win after the bitter experience of Maharashtra.
At a press conference held in Jamshedpur on Sunday, Rai made it clear that he would contest from both Jamshedpur East and Jamshedpur Western seats.
Until Saturday, Rai was yet to show his cards, but the information about his procurement of two nomination papers indicated that this Jharkhand minister had prepared to challenge Chief Minister Raghubar Das in the stronghold of the latter.
Addressing reporters, Saryu Rai said that the party had taken a decision. “I’m not sad or unhappy with this decision. Now a decision has to be made. Have to draw a big line,” he said.
Rai said he would contest from both Jamshedpur East and West seats. On being denied a BJP ticket, he has suddenly realised that “an atmosphere of fear and terror” prevails in Jharkhand. “There is a need to change this atmosphere,” he said.
Rai said that he would now openly fight to get deliver ownership of 86 slums of Jamshedpur to the people. He will raise his voice against the repeated strike in TELCO. He said that TELCO also has units in other Sof the country, but only in Jamshedpur, there were frequent closures. The plant remains closed for about 20-25 days a month.
On being asked how he will be able to manage the election campaign if he contests from two seats, Saryu Rai said that he would fight the election of Jamshedpur East together with the people there. His workers in Jamshedpur West will contest on his behalf, he said confidently. The workers have assured him, he said, that they do not even need to peek into Jamshedpur West. Rai claimed that the people of Jamshedpur East told him that they would vote for him and also fund the campaign.
After offering prayers at the Bhuvaneshwari temple in TELCO on Saturday morning, Saryu Rai had said that he was waiting for the decision of the party. “I am a soldier of the party. I have been doing what the party has been saying. In 2005, the party asked me to contest from Jamshedpur West; I contested the election. If the party made me a minister, I fulfilled his responsibility with full devotion,” he had said.
However, by Saturday evening, there were indications that Saryu Rai could file a nomination from both the seats.
The food supply minister of Jharkhand said that he had been raising the issue of recognition of 86 slums in Jamshedpur since the year 2006. In the year 2007, he had made an offer, but no one supported him.
Saryu Rai said that his own party colleagues were fighting for years to give the people ownership of 86 slums by forming a Basti Development Committee and continuously criticising political rivals. But when the party came to power, the government made it clear that they could not transfer the ownership, he said. He asked when the Prime Minister could get the people of the country their rights, why the government of Jharkhand could not.
Saryu Rai said one had to conduct his affairs with dignity when staying in power. “Can only resist within a limit. If not doing this, people start asking all kinds of questions,” he said, adding that he wrote letters to the government against this “fear and terror”, warned the administration. “Many people got relief,” he said but added that administration should work without fear.
Saryu Rai said that he would now raise the voice of the workers. “They will openly agitate to get their rights,” he said. He claimed he had been raising his voice in favour of labourers earlier also. Owing to being a part of the government, he said, he could not directly participate in their movement, but “now that bond is snapped”. He said people were migrating from Jamshedpur and “this is an important issue”.
In the 250 odd tweets by users following the development, Saryu Rai emerges as a winner, with people blaming the governance of Raghubar Das. They say the BJP needed a scapegoat to fight anti-incumbency and the ruling party found one in Rai.