Jharkhand heading for President's rule

Jharkhand heading for President's rule

Home Minister P Chidambaram met Congress President Sonia Gandhi after the Jharkhand Governor M O H Farooq sent his report to the Centre. Farooq is understood to have recommended President's Rule after meeting leaders of major political parties in Ranchi.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been convened tomorrow to consider the Governor's report which was sent a day after Soren resigned as Jharkhand chief minister, hours before the trust vote in the assembly.

The Soren government was reduced to a minority on May 24 when BJP, with 18 MLAs and JD(U) with two, withdrew support to it. The JMM, with 18 MLAs and having the support of seven other legislators, was short of the required 42 in the 82-member House.

The BJP took the decision after Soren voted against the cut motions sponsored by the opposition in the Lok Sabha on April 27.

Congress, with a strength of 14, and its ally JVM(P) with 11 members, said it did not have the numbers to stake a claim to form the government.

Sources in the AICC meanwhile maintained that since elections for Rajya Sabha from the state are to take place next week, a brief spell of central rule for sometime could be an option to allow the political situation in the state to unfold.

Elections are to be held for two Rajya Sabha seats in the state. Congress hopes to win one seat easily in a triangular contest. If the Assembly is dissolved immediately, elections for Rajya Sabha will have to be delayed.

Congress, which was under pressure from its state unit for exploring possibilities of forming an alternative government, today made it clear that it won't risk its credibility by hitching with an "unpredictable" JMM.

"We had almost decided in the very beginning that we won't go for an alternative government formation in the state. We do not want to risk our credibility. Everything is so unpredictable in JMM, where Soren says something and his son, Hemant, something else," said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

AICC in-charge for the state K Keshava Rao categorically said that the party does not have sufficient numbers to provide a stable and honest government there.

"We do not want to get into this atmosphere of horse trading," was the refrain of Rao, when asked why his party is not exploring any political alternative in the state.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said, "We have been waiting and watching. Congress has never been in a hurry. We are interested in doing what is best for the people there... The situation is fluid there."

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said,"We have withdrawn support. We are at the moment not looking at forming a government in the state but keenly watching the Congress party and its movements."

While there is an apparent reluctance among the BJP leaders at the Centre about any new arrangement with JMM, there is a view in Congress that a brief spell of President's Rule in the state would work in the party's favour and an appropriate political decision can be taken later.

Jharkhand BJP spokesperson Sanjay Seth said that BJP leaders met the Governor and informed him that President's Rule should be imposed in the state and fresh elections held soon.

"The Governor had called BJP leaders. We met him and told we do not have the numbers (to form any government)," he added.

Sources, however, said that a large number of MLAs in the BJP are not in favour of early elections and they may come to Delhi to meet senior leaders. "The central leadership will appreciate our concerns," said a state leader.

Leader of the Oppostion from Congress in the state Rajendra Prasad Singh, however, said his party was against imposition of President's Rule or mid-term polls.
Elections were held in December 2009.

Earlier in the day, BJP state president Raghuvar Das met the governor twice in the morning over prospects of government formation and told reporters that he has sought time till tomorrow.

By evening, the BJP dropped its plans on the direction of the central leadership which felt that any tie-up with JMM would not last long.

BJP had decided to put its April 28 decision to withdraw support on hold after the JMM offered it Chief Ministership.

Soren did a U-turn on this understanding and demanded a rotational power-sharing deal which the BJP agreed to.

Under this, Soren was to resign by May 25 and Arjun Munda was to head the BJP-led government for the first 28 months. Soren reneged on this too and made overtures to the Congress to form the new government which too failed.

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