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Futile hunt for friends

Ranchi, March 16: A downcast Babulal Marandi camp resigned itself to its fate this morning when efforts to win over the seven rebel ministers and Opposition MLAs came to naught.

Some of Marandi’s Cabinet colleagues called on Raj Bhavan to convince Governor M. Rama Jois of the chief minister’s “important” role in summoning the House. But, sources said, with the Governor “sounding and looking uninterested”, the ruling party realised it would not make much headway. As a last-ditch effort, the state BJP leaders were urging their Delhi bosses to talk to Jois.

The Marandi camp wants Raj Bhavan to intervene so that the House is convened at a date later than March 17 fixed by Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari.

To press their demand, Marandi’s followers cited Rule 15 of the Jharkhand Assembly Rules of Business, which, they claimed, provides that the Speaker can summon a Assembly adjourned sine die only on the proposal of the leader of the House (chief minister), sources said.

Mines minister Ravindra Rai carried a copy of an order of Punjab and Haryana High Court to substantiate the Marandi camp’s claims, but Jois, who has been the chief justice there, merely said he would look into the matter.

Contrary to their expectations, the Governor suggested that if the BJP had the required strength on the floor of the House, they should go for the vote of confidence on Monday itself.

Already disappointed by the statement made by Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker and senior BJP leader Kesrinath Tripathi in favour of Namdhari, the visitors returned from Raj Bhavan empty handed, sources said.

“The Governor said opposing the Speaker’s date would imply that Raj Bhavan was encouraging horse-trading,” sources said. Jois has indicated that it was the Speaker’s prerogative to summon the House.

“When the Governor is bound by rules, it is unlikely that he would intervene in the Speaker’s rights,” the sources added.

A senior BJP leader said: “The Governor looked negative. The other option, winning back the rebels or wooing Opposition MLAs, is not easy. One or two MLAs do not count now. We need at least five more, which is possible only if a major party splits and its MLAs switch sides without coming under the purview of the anti-defection law. The MLAs can defect en masse only if there is a dispute on a policy matter or due to greed. This looks highly improbable.”

“The Left, which has four MLAs, will never joins us. The JMM has 12, the Congress 11 and the RJD nine legislators. Their MLAs can defect only if a sizeable number decides to join us. Under the prevailing circumstances, when the parties are keeping a close vigil on their legislators, it seems impossible to win them over,” the leader said.

Holding Namdhari responsible for Marandi's ouster, the leader regretted the BJP’s decision to woo the Speaker to continue after he had made up his mind to quit on several occasions in the past.

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