JMM unhappy that Hemant Soren had to go to Delhi six times in a month to meet Sonia, Rahul Gandhi.
New Delhi: The political situation in notoriously unpredictable Jharkhand is set for tumultuous times.
While on the one hand the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is reportedly upset over the big brother treatment that it is getting from the Congress leadership, at least 6-8 disgruntled Congress MLAs, on the other hand, are exploring the option of joining a front that will have former Chief Minister and chief of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) (JVM-P) Babulal Marandi as their leader and form a new government with the support of BJP MLAs.
The disgruntled Congress MLAs were expecting that they will be given a place in the newly announced ministry, but ultimately they could not find a place.
As of today, in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, the JMM has 30 MLAs, Congress 16, BJP 25, AJSU 2, JVM (P) 3, CPI, NCP, RJD one each and there are two independents.
The BJP needs the support of 16 more MLAs to stake claim to form the government which it believes it can get by bringing MLAs from Congress and JMM, apart from the independents.
In the Cabinet expansion that took place on 28 January, Chief Minister Hemant Soren inducted seven ministers, five from the JMM and two from the Congress, taking the total ministers in his Cabinet to 11 including him. As of today, Congress has four ministers, JMM six, while the RJD has one member in the Cabinet. Jharkhand can have a maximum of 12 ministers. There is strong speculation that one spot has been kept vacant for one of the two JVM(P) MLAs, Pradeep Yadav or Bandhu Tirkey who are likely to join the Congress “very soon”. The JVM(P) is led by former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi and it had won on three seats. The JMM has kept 25 departments with it, Congress has been given nine, while the lone RJD MLA has been given one department.
Party sources within both JVM(P) and Congress confirmed that Babulal Marandi had been given a free hand by BJP leader Amit Shah to stitch a possible coalition of disgruntled Congress and JMM MLAs to explore the option of forming government in Ranchi. Marandi has been given a commitment that if this coalition takes shape, it will be he who will be the CM candidate.
Senior BJP sources said that RSS functionaries based in Jharkhand are coordinating with Marandi to reach out to like-minded MLAs in Congress and JMM.
However, JMM spokesperson Vinod Pandey dismissed any possibility of the alliance being under strain. “BJP cannot be expected to say positive things about our alliance. The people have voted for the JMM-led alliance, people have voted for Hemant Soren and Guruji (Shibu Soren). There is no danger to the alliance. BJP is irritated. As for those who are questioning why it took so much time to decide the Cabinet composition, I would like to tell them that Raghubar Das’ Cabinet expansion did not take place for 53 days. In fact, he could never even work with a full Cabinet. The BJP should respect the people’s mandate. Hemant Soren is the Chief Minister and he had to go to Delhi for official reasons, not for alliance related matters. Chief Ministers from different states routinely go to Delhi,” he told The Sunday Guardian.
Former BJP stalwart and independent MLA from Jamshedpur (East), Saryu Roy, who defeated his bete-noire and former BJP Chief Minister Raghubar Das, met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat last week and spent close to three hours with him. Roy, who has close links with RSS, spanning decades, had left the BJP due to his differences with Das and he can be expected to come on board in this coalition headed by Marandi if Das is not made a member of the coalition.
A JMM party source said that ever since the result of the Assembly elections were announced on 23 December, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had to go to Delhi six times to meet Congress’ acting president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to seek their “advice” on issues and this has not gone down well with either Soren or his party MLAs. The source recalled that the BJP and the JMM had functioned as an alliance partner in the state till 2012.
Some of the Congress MLAs who are reportedly being wooed by the BJP-led groups are Purnima Singh (Jharia), Amba Prasad (Barkagaon), Mamta Devi (Ramgarh), Rajesh Kachhap (Khijri), Umashankar Akela (Barhi) and senior party leader and MLA from Bermo, Rajendra Prasad Singh.