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Sonia-Soren to address joint meeting in Jharkhand
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is all set to address a joint public meeting with JMM chief Shibu Soren when she goes for her campaign tour to Jharkhand for the second phase of elections in the state.

This is a reversal of the party's earlier stand that Ms.Gandhi would only campaign for the party candidates and refrain from joint election meetings with its allies given the bitter rivalry between the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the JMM in Jharkhand and the RJD and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar.

The Congress thought it best not to take sides as it has tied up with the JMM while having a tacit alliance with the LJP and a broad understanding with the RJD.

There appears to be a change now as Ms Gandhi and Mr Soren are expected to address a joint rally in the assembly constituencies of Gumla and Ranchi when she visits Jharkhand and Bihar on February 11 and 12. While the Gumla seat is being contested by a JMM candidate, the Congress has fielded its contestent in Ranchi. This is Ms. Gandhi's second tour to these election-bound states.

The decision to have a joint campaign with the JMM follows the exit polls of the first phase of elections which indicate a close fight between the Congress-JMM combine and the ruling BJP-Janata Dal (U) alliance.

The Congress and the JMM are hoping that a joint campaign will help salvage the situation and send out the message that the UPA allies are together. It is, however, not clear how the RJD and the LJP will react to this move.

Confirming reports about a joint rally, JMM leader Mr Shibu Soren, who was in Delhi for a day, maintained that Mr Marandi's rebellion would not have any impact on his party's poll prospects.

Mr Soren also denied reports that he would cross over to the NDA camp if the Congress did not concede the chief minister's post to the JMM. "We are ideologically poles apart and there can never by any meeting ground between the BJP and the JMM," he added emphatically.


BSF man killed in repoll
Tribune News Service

Ranchi, February 7
Naxalites struck again during repoll to 74 booths in seven constituencies of Jharkhand by blowing up a land mine in which a BSF constable was killed and five others were injured.

The incident took place near Bratu in the Panki Assembly constituency at 7.30 am today.

Police officials said the incident did not affect the repoll at the booth which commenced at the scheduled time. 

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