| Munda dances with a dholak to celebrate Karma. (PTI)
Ranchi/New Delhi, Sept. 4: The political crisis in Jharkhand deepened today with Opposition MLAs regrouping in the national capital to demonstrate their strength before staking claim to majority support in the Assembly.
Chief minister Arjun Munda, scheduled to fly to Delhi, put off his visit and held closed-door consultations with Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari, who rushed back from his overseas tour.
Munda put up a brave face and said he is “prepared for a show of strength in the House”, apparently reconciled to the loss of support having failed to dissuade the rebel trio — Madhu Koda, Anosh Ekka and Harinarayan Rai.
The three “missing ministers” were said to be hiding in Haryana. Though Munda claimed one of them, Ekka, would be flying back to Ranchi by evening, there was no sign of him.
There was high drama late tonight when water resources minister Kamlesh Singh, who had earlier in the day suggested he was keeping options open, claimed he was stopped by the police in Jamshedpur from where he was to have taken a train to Calcutta.
Singh told a TV channel he wanted to take a flight out of Calcutta to Delhi tomorrow morning, but the police stopped him in Azadnagar area of Jamshedpur. “I wanted to discuss the issue with the ministers who are in Delhi, but the police stopped me, checked my car and said the chief minister has asked me to go back,” he said in a telephonic interview with the TV channel late tonight.
Munda could not be contacted for comment.
Reports from Delhi indicated the rebel trio had called on Union home minister Shivraj Patil, but had been denied an audience by Sonia Gandhi. Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the Congress would wait and watch. The BJP top brass, however, exuded confidence that Munda would be able to make up the loss of the three ministers with other MLAs.
BJP sources claimed that a UGDP member had been offered the mines and geology portfolio, now held by Koda. An olive branch has been offered to the other two ministers as well, the sources claimed. They quoted the chief minister as saying that though he is not willing to succumb to pressure, he would consider all reasonable demands.