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Munda skips test, quits
Independent Madhu Koda stakes claim
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Ranchi, September 14
Chief Minister Arjun Munda tendered his resignation marking a pre-mature exit of the 18-month-old NDA government in Jharkhand after failing to muster the required numbers to prove majority in the Assembly today.

With the numbers weighing against him, Munda announced his resignation on the floor of the state Assembly minutes before he was to face a trust vote.

The ruling NDA, which was reduced to a minority following the withdrawal of support to it by four Independent ministers last Tuesday, could produce only 38 MLAs, against 43 of the UPA.

The 39th MLA of the NDA was the Speaker, Inder Singh Namdhari, in the 82-member House. The NDA was short of four MLAs from a majority in the House.

The UPA has already staked claim to form the next government before the Governor Syed Sibtey Razi by unanimously choosing Madhu Koda, a former Independent minister in the Arjun Munda cabinet, as the new chief ministerial candidate.

Madhu Koda was an RSS man in 80s. He won election as a BJP candidate in 2000 before turning Independent in the 2005 Assembly elections. He, along with three other Independent ministers, Kamalesh Singh, Enosh Ekka and Suryanarayan Rai, pulled down the NDA government with the support of the Congress, the RJD and the JMM.

Incidentally, Madhu Koda will be the first Independent Chief Minister of any state in the country since Independence.

Munda blamed the fall of his government on the Congress, which he accused of indulging in undemocratic practices to unseat non-Congress parties from power since Independence.

The week-long political drama ended with Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari’s decision of not debarring three MLAs facing disqualification from participating in the trust vote.

Instead, Namdhari chose to defer his decision with regard to the cases on disqualification notices to three Independent members.

While announcing his decision before mediapersons, he said he needed more time to ponder over the issue; thereby sealing the fate of the Arjun Munda government that was hoping to win the trust vote following disqualification of the three MLAs.

Namdhari claimed he was “guided by conscience” while not debarring the three MLAs from voting despite facing disqualification petitions.

Out of the three MLAs facing disqualification notices, Enosh Ekka and Kamalesh Singh were also instrumental in bringing down the 10-day-old UPA government headed by Shibu Soren in March, 2005. At that time, they had shifted their allegiance to the NDA despite winning elections as UPA candidates.

The duo re-enacted the drama of 2005 last Tuesday, along with Madhu Koda and Harinarayan Rai, to bring back the UPA to power by dislodging the NDA.

The third MLA facing disqualification notice was Independent MLA Stephen Marandi, who recently formed the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (D) with former BJP Chief Minister and dissident leader Babulal Marandi.

Meanwhile, Union Minister and senior Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay denied the charges levelled against his party for pulling down the Arjun Munda government. “We are not the initiators. We have not pulled down this government,” he said.

Sources in the NDA said although Arjun Munda was adamant on facing the trust vote, with or without the numbers, it was Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who advised the BJP leadership to ask Munda to step down in order to save the NDA from greater embarrassment.

Subsequently, BJP president Rajnath Singh, who himself was a key player in the formation of the NDA government in Jharkhand 18 months ago, asked Arjun Munda to step down.

After supporting Madhu Koda’s name as the next Chief Minister, Union Coal Minister Shibu Soren said he had abided by the decision taken by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “Our leader is Sonia Gandhi. Whatever decision she takes, we accept it ,” he said. He was reportedly not in favour of the candidature of Madhu Koda till morning today. Madhu Koda’s name was originally proposed by Lalu Prasad in Delhi on Wednesday, which was ratified today in the presence of Shibu Soren and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay.

Lalu Prasad also landed here in a chartered flight from Delhi in the morning.

The week-long political crisis in Jharkhand reached its peak when UPA MLAs emerged from their hibernation on Wednesday and huddled at Ranchi Ashoka, the hotel that the NDA had used 18 months ago to dislodge the UPA government headed by Shibu Soren.

Out of the MLAs supporting Madhu Koda, 17 are of the JMM nine of the Congress, seven of the RJD and remaining are either Independents and from smaller parties.



Speaker resigns

Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari resigned on “moral grounds” this evening. “Since the Speaker is generally chosen by the ruling party, I do not have any moral authority to continue on the post after the fall of the NDA government,” he added.

It was learnt that Namdhari was advised to resign by the JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar to avoid any misunderstanding with the BJP that was supporting the JD(U)-led NDA government in Bihar.



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