M A I N   N E W S

BJP wins power tussle
To form govt in Jharkhand; decision on CM tomorrow
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren will resign next week and pave the way to a BJP-led government in the state. In a joint announcement in the capital today, BJP and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leaders confirmed that the JMM Legislature Party had agreed to offer unconditional support to the BJP-led government for the remaining four and a half years of the state assemblyís life.

There was not much clarity, however, on JMMís riders that the office of the Chief Minister would be rotational and that the BJPís nominee for the office would have to be a tribal. BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar, however, claimed, "We have decided that this government will complete its full term....This decision has been taken for the entire period of the Assembly."

The decision on the next Chief Minister of the state would be taken at the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting expected to be held on Monday, said Kumar at the residence of the BJP president, Nitin Gadkari.

After five rounds of negotiations, one of the deputy chief ministers Sudesh Mahto representing a smaller alliance partner AJSU and Shibu Sorenís son Hemant Soren, who is the leader of the JMM legislature party in the assembly, jointly announced, "We had fruitful discussions with senior BJP leaders. We will support a government in Jharkhand under BJPís leadership. The decision has been taken to save the state from President's Rule."

Mahto, the main motivator pushing for a BJP-led government expressed satisfaction over what he described as ďend of political uncertainty in the state.Ē Todayís meeting chaired by Gadkari was attended by Ananth Kumar, deputy chief minister Raghubar Das, Sudesh Mahto and Hemant Soren.

Meanwhile, sources within the BJP disclosed that front-runners for the chief ministerís post include Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha, former chief minister and BJP general secretary Arjun Munda as also Raghubar Das. But with the state maintaining the tradition of being led only by a tribal, the possibility of a dark horse pipping Sinha, Das (both non-tribals) and Munda to the post cannot be ruled out.

But sources said a section within the BJP feels Yashwant Sinha could provide greater political stability and gravitas to Jharkhand. The difficulty in nominating Sinha and Munda is that with both being Members of Parliament, an assembly seat would have to be vacated for them to get into the House. BJP legislators and the JMM seem divided on the two front-runners, some of them insisting that the next Chief Minister should be chosen from the existing MLAs.

All this and more has to be thrashed out at the Parliamentary board meeting. It will also work out a common minimum programme. A party observer from among Ananth Kumar and former president Rajnath Singh will then to go to Ranchi and finalise the CMP and the next chief minister of the state with JMM and AJSU leaders.

The resignation of Shibu Soren, sources said can come only after all loose ends have been neatly tied up.





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