BJP divided over re-marriage with JMM

Prominent absentee from the swearing-in ceremony of BJP’s Arjun Munda as Jharkhand Chief Minister would be party leader L K Advani. “No, he is not going. This is not the first time it has happened,” said a close aide when asked if there are political undertones behind his decision.

Advani and Arun Jaitley, among others, are understood to have been miffed by the move that would see a BJP-JMM coalition government in Jharkhand on Saturday. “Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj is supportive of the BJP’s initiative in the state,” sources told Deccan Herald.

“Like last time, party President Nitin Gadkari is travelling outside the country this time as well when the government is taking oath in the state,” quipped a senior BJP National-Executive member. Gadkari, who was in the US when the BJP government assumed office in the state previously, is currently in Moscow. The Parliamentary Board, the highest decision-making forum inside the party, could not meet with Gadkari flying out.

The reason for Advani’s unhappiness is due to his exclusion while “the party decided the issue.” Many in the party, however, feel a decision on Jharkhand could not have been taken without “consulting the senior-most leader.”  “There is a core committee and all senior leaders are its members. The decision to make Munda as CM  could not have come out of thin air,” said an indignant BJP leader who criticised Advani for “setting a wrong precedent.”

Many in the party are wary of the “concessions” the JMM may extract from the BJP that would make governing the state virtually impossible. Party leaders resisting the “the lure of power” in the state have also pointed at the “unreliability” of JMM patron Shibu Soren and its impact on the party’s credibility.

Senior BJP leader M M Joshi was opposed to the party “re-bargaining” with Soren after his party pulled the plug on the JMM-BJP government leading to President’s rule in the state. Former president Rajnath Singh has backed Arjun Munda as chief minister as against former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha.

Talking about the saffron split over the BJP’s bid to form a government in Jharkhand, another former chief of the party admitted that “diverse opinion” existed in the party. “There are mining and power lobbies from different states at work. The question is whether (alliance with JMM) would be in the party’s long-term interest,” he said.

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