NEW DELHI (TIP): The Congress and JMM appear to be inching closer towards forming an alternative government in Jharkhand which has been under President’s Rule — imposed after the fall of the Arjun Munda government on January 8. Newly-appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of the state BK Hariprasad will hold talks in this regard with state leaders of the Congress and JMM tomorrow in Ranchi.
Shibu Soren’s party, which is supporting UPA-II from outside, has been keen on forming an alternative government in the state in alliance with the Congress ever since it broke up with the BJP leading to the 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 towards any such move.
The 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. The 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 the Congress for the 2009 Assembly elections, parted ways with it in April last year over the FDI issue. The 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, the Congress has one MP Subodh Kant Sahay, while JMM has two members. They had fought the last General Election separately. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, when both parties had fought in alliance, the Congress had won six and JMM four seats respectively bringing 10 seats in the UPA kitty. There are indications that the formation of government with JMM will depend on an amicable seat-sharing agreement between the two parties for the next General Election.
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 the JMM and Congress fail to reach an agreement on the issue. Central rule in Jharkhand will expire 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 the 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 a 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 AK Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde, Jairam Ramesh and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, on the way forward in Jharkhand.