Shibu Soren’s flip-flop puts BJP in spot

Ranchi, May 21 (Calcutta Tube) A day after Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren declared he would not quit as Jharkhand chief minister, its stunned coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would decide on May 25 on the future course of action.

Shibu Soren, in a turnaround, said in Bokaro Thursday that he would not quit from the chief minister’s post and the rotation of power agreement with the BJP was unacceptable to him.

Meanwhile, two dissenting JMM legislators, Teklal Mahto and Lobin Hembrom, were in New Delhi Thursday and reportedly are to hold talks with Congress leaders on formation of an alternative government.

Soren had also said he will fight the assembly poll, but did not reveal the name of the seat from which he would fight the poll. Soren, a Lok Sabha MP, has to get elected to the state assembly by June 30 to retain his chief ministership.

‘Shibu Soren is an unpredictable politician. We will wait till May 25 and decide the future course of action. Soren had assured us to quit on May 25 to transfer power. We cannot pass a statement on media reports,’ a senior BJP leader told IANS declining to be named.

The BJP leader further said: ‘There are only two options before the party, either to form a government with support of JMM or withdraw support.’

BJP sources revealed that the JMM does not want a strong BJP chief ministerial nominee. According to sources, the BJP has cleared the name of party national general secretary and former chief minister Arjun Munda to take over. Munda is seen by JMM leaders as a strong chief minister who would not be dictated to.

The JMM wants the BJP to nominate a tribal legislator as chief minister, which the party has rejected, sources said.

According to sources, the JMM has kept its options open and would go with any party but on the condition that Shibu Soren continues as chief minister. Around eight JMM legislators want Soren to continue as chief minister under a United Progressive Alliance government.

Jharkhand has been in the midst of a political crisis since Soren voted against the BJP’s cut motions in the Lok Sabha last month. That led the BJP, a junior partner in Jharkhand’s ruling coalition, to threaten to withdraw support to the JMM. However, they decided against it.

On Tuesday, both parties agreed to share power in rotation for 28 months each. At a joint press conference with Arjun Munda, Soren Tuesday announced the sharing of power.

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