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Since 1st March, 1999
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Soren bribe salvo at CM

Bokaro, Feb. 20: JMM president Sibu Soren today alleged that chief minister Babulal Marandi had offered Rs 1 crore each to five of his legislators in exchange for splitting the party and supporting the government.

Addressing a news conference here, Soren said Marandi feared his government could be reduced to a minority within 10 days. “As five of his ministers are sure to cross over and are in touch with the Opposition, the government will end its innings in the budget session,” the JMM chief said.

Soren said the chief minister had made the offer to five JMM legislators — Dulal Bhuiya, Haru Rajwar, Salkhan Soren, L. Himbran and Nalin Soren — but they had turned it down.

The BJP has 33 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly. If the five rebel ministers — four from the Samata Party and one from the Janata Dal (United) — decide to ditch the government, it would be reduced to a minority. The ministers have set a date for February 27 for Marandi to step down.

The chief minister was unavailable for comment, but sources close to him scoffed at the allegations. “It is a baseless charge made by a desperate JMM president. Soren knows the JMM is on a sticky wicket in Poriyahat. So he is making the charge to deflect the people’s attention from his party’s imminent defeat in the bypoll. The JMM chief is daydreaming when he says that the Marandi government would collapse,” the sources said.

The state BJP also denied the charges, asserting there was no threat to the Marandi government. “All this politicking will lead to nothing. This is Soren’s usual gimmick, this time prompted by the Poriyahat byelection,” a party office-bearer said, while conceding that the approach of the five rebel ministers could make a difference to the political equations in the state.

Soren fired another salvo at the government, alleging it was hand-in-glove with the extremists of Jharkhand. “The situation in Jharkhand is worse than in the border area of Jammu and Kashmir. The government is sleeping over this issue and has never been serious about solving the problem,” he said.

Asked to give a date when the government would collapse, Soren said it would happen after the Poriyahat bypoll on February 26.

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