Cong-JMM exploring Government formation in Jharkhand

NEW DELHI, June 20:  Congress and JMM appear to be inching closer towards forming an alternative Government in Jharkhand which has been under President’s Rule imposed after fall of the Arjun Munda government on January 8.

Newly-appointed General Secretary in-charge of the state B K Hariprasad will hold talks in this regard with state leaders of Congress and JMM tomorrow in Ranchi.

Shibu Soren’s party, which is supporting UPA-2 from outside, has been keen on forming an alternative government in the state in alliance with Congress ever since it broke up with the BJP leading to imposition of President’s Rule there on January 18.

While a large number of Congress leaders in the state are in favour of forming a government with JMM’s support as 18 months are still left for the current state assembly’s term to get over, the top brass of the party was initially reluctant for any such move.

Congress had supported an independent Madhu Koda-led government in the state and had to face criticism later as Koda got embroiled in serious corruption cases.

Besides, there are cases pending against some JMM leaders even now. Hence, the party leadership was wary of any such tie-up in the state. There, however, appears to have been a re-think over the issue of alliances now.

JVM (P), which had forged an alliance with Congress for the 2009 assembly elections, parted ways with it in April last year over the FDI issue.

Congress now appears to be veering around to the view that it has to tie up with some party for the next Lok Sabha elections there.

Out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, Congress has one MP Subodh Kant Sahay, while JMM has two members. They had fought the last general elections separately. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, when both parties had fought in alliance, Congress had won six and JMM four seats respectively bringing 10 seats in the UPA kitty.

There are indications that formation of government with JMM will depend on an amicable seat-sharing agreement between the two parties for the next general elections.

Another talk in political circles is that assembly elections in Jharkhand could be held along with those in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi if JMM and Congress fail to come to reach an agreement on the issue.

Central rule in Jharkhand is expiring on July 18 and a decision has to be taken before that.

JMM MLAs Vishnu Prasad Bhaiya and Paulus Surin had a few days back issued threats of resigning from the House membership if the Congress failed to take a decision on government formation before June 16.

Announcing his intent to lend unconditional support to JMM and Congress if they joined hands for government formation, senior RJD leader and MLA Janardhan Paswan had earlier said that the Congress must come forward to give a new alternative to the people who have given mandate for five years.

The BJP, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantric) and AJSU Party have been demanding dissolution of the House to seek a new mandate.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had on June 10 held consultations with senior party leaders including A K Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Jairam Ramesh and Vice President Rahul Gandhi, on the way forward in Jharkhand. PCC President Sukdev Bhagat, CLP leader Rajendra Prasad Singh and AICC in-charge Shakeel Ahmed were also present.

Uncertainties have always hovered over Jharkhand politics with the state coming under President’s Rule for the third time since it was carved out from Bihar in 2000. Earlier the state was placed under President’s rule in 2009 and 2010.

JMM and Congress, which have 18 and 13 MLAs, need the support of 11 more legislators to form a government in the 81-member state assembly.

Besides the 18 members each from BJP and JMM, Munda had enjoyed the support of six members of All Jharkhand Students’ Union, two of BJP’s erswhile ally JD-U, two Independents and one nominated member.

Congress has a total of 13 members, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha(P)-11 and RJD-5 in the House.

CPI-ML (L), Marxist Coordination Party, Jharkhand Party (Ekka), Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch and Jai Bharat Samta Party have one member each besides an Independent.

It remains to be seen whether Lalu Prasad’s RJD is asked to participate in the government or not after the apparent change in equations between Congress and RJD’s arch rival JD (U), which broke away from BJP in Bihar on the issue of Narendra Modi’s elevation.

Even if JD(U) decides to support any alternative JMM-Congress government in a quid pro quo for the support of the four MLAs of Congress to Nitish Kumar government in the trust vote in Bihar yesterday, they will need support of nine more MLAs.

If both RJD as well as AJSU support any such excerise, Congress and JMM will not have to look towards JD(U) or independents. AJSU had voted for JMM candidate in Rajya Sabha elections last year. (PTI)


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