By Navneet Mishra
Ranchi: Jharkhand tribal leader Babulal Marandi who joined the Bhartiya Janata Party on Monday in presence of Amit Shah, had in fact once rejected the offer in 2014 when the Rajya Sabha elections were taking place.
It was in 2014, when the first Chief Minister of Jharkhand lost the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections during the Modi wave. Then BJP president Amit Shah desperately wanted Marandi back in the party fold and sent emissaries to him to join the party, offering a Rajya Sabha seat, the elections for which were due.
Shah traced Marandi in Kolkata, and sent him an offer to join the BJP through a messenger.
The decks were cleared for Marandi to go to the Rajya Sabha, but he declined the offer and refused to return in the BJP.
However, as it is said “nothing is permanent” in politics, Marandi mellowed down over the years. He, on Monday, merged his party, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), with the BJP in Shah’s presence. This was the result of Shah’s six-year-long efforts which led to a ‘ghar wapasi’ of Marandi after 14 years. Marandi, a former RSS disciple, has quite an influence among Jharkhand’s tribal communities.
Marandi joined the BJP at a gala ceremony at Jagannath Maidan here in presence of top BJP leadership. A large crowd of the BJP and JVM workers gathered to witness Marandi’s ‘ghar wapasi’. Marandi also announced the merger of his party with the BJP at the event.
Shah said that the strength of the BJP will increase manifold with the arrival of Marandi. He said: “Today is a matter of great pleasure for me, because I was trying to bring back Babulalji in the party since I became the BJP President in 2014.”
Marandi, who became the first Chief Minister after the formation of Jharkhand in 2000, had to step down in 2003 due to internal strife in the BJP. After the dissatisfaction crossed a level, he formed a new political outfit by separating from the BJP in 2006.
Experts say that senior BJP leader Om Mathur played the most vital role in bringing Marandi back into the party. Marandi himself confirmed this during the meeting.
Experts also say the BJP felt the need for a strong tribal face in Jharkhand after the defeat in the Assembly elections held last year, to revive the party’s sagging fortunes in the state. Mathur, at the behest of Shah, once again started backroom negotiations with Marandi, who also felt that the time has come for him to give wings to his ambitions and going to the BJP is the only option in view of the new political equation that emerged after the Assembly elections.
Marandi also gave a clarification regarding his return during the event. He said: “Some people will say that the BJP is taking him into the party due to the defeat in the state Assembly elections. But it was not a sudden decision. Rather, the BJP leaders have been talking to me for many years. Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s efforts to bring me to the party were continuing”.
Marandi said that he was not ready to come back once he left the party due to his stubborn nature. However, later respecting the wishes of the workers, he decided to return to the BJP.
(Navneet Mishra can be reached at [email protected])