M A I N   N E W S

Munda govt in crisis as 4 ministers quit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 5
Notwithstanding the claims of majority of Chief Minister Arjun Munda, the countdown of the fall of the BJP-led coalition government in Jharkhand appears to have begun after four ministers resigned today, reducing the 18-month-old government to a minority.

Mr Munda, who enjoyed a wafer-thin majority of one in a House of 82, plunged into deep crisis when the four ministers — Enos Ekka, Harinarayan Rai and Madhu Koda (all Independents), and Kamlesh Singh (NCP) — sent their resignations to Governor Syed Sibtey Razi by fax.

Efforts to cobble up an alternative government in Ranchi are going on with Independent MLA Madhu Koda, who raised the banner of revolt against the BJP-led coalition in Jharkhand, emerging as the choice for the next Chief Minister.

UPA sources said the letter of support from all major parties in the alliance, including the JMM and the RJD, has been received in support of Mr Koda’s name for heading the alternative secular government.

The UPA is claiming the support of 43 MLAs, including the four ministers who resigned from the Munda government.

RJD supremo and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who has been playing a hyperactive role in getting an alternative government in place, said the Munda government had been reduced to a minority and its fall was imminent.

“UPA partners are in touch with each other in the wake of revolt in the NDA and parties are united to form a secular government in Jharkhand”, he said adding that RJD MLAs were in Delhi and taking a lead to dislodge the Munda government.

Mr Yadav said the revolt of the four ministers was justified and they had taken the “right step”.

“We will take appropriate steps at the appropriate time. Consensus is emerging in favour of Madhu Koda”, he said. Mr Koda has been the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the Munda government.

The Congress is treading cautiously and is not rushing into developments. Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the Congress was watching the situation “closely and carefully”.

“At this stage, we have nothing to say. We will react, if necessary, at the appropriate time and in an appropriate manner”, he said.

JMM supremo Shibu Soren remained non-committal on whether he would stake claim for the chief ministership.

Mr Soren parried all questions on the issue saying that this would be decided by the UPA leadership.

Incidentally, the JMM has 17 MLAs, forming the largest chunk in the 39-member UPA, followed by the Congress (9), RJD (7) and others (6).

Mr Munda, however, continued to claim that there was no threat to his government, while former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi asked for the imposition of President’s rule in the state.

While the NDA claims the support of 42 MLAs, including a Nominated legislator, the Opposition combine has 39.

But with the resignation of the four ministers from the government, the BJP-JD(U) government is in deep trouble and may find it difficult to prove its majority, observers said.

While BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the party was closely monitoring the developments in the state, its president Rajnath Singh sought to put a brave face when he expressed confidence of saving his party’s government in Jharkhand and blamed the Congress for the crisis.



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