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Since 1st March, 1999
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9-day lifeline for govt on edge

Ranchi/New Delhi, Sept. 6: The odds heavily stacked against him, chief minister Arjun Munda was today asked to prove his majority in the Assembly on or before September 15 after he demanded a floor test.

Governor Syed Sibtey Razi asked Munda to prove his majority after four ministers — Madhu Koda, Harinarayan Rai, Anosh Ekka and Kamlesh Singh — resigned and withdrew support to the NDA yesterday, reducing the government to a minority. The NDA now has 38 MLAs in the House of 81.

Munda, who met the governor earlier in the day, had pointed out that “adequate” time was allowed to the Shibu Soren government after the 2005 Assembly elections and it was only fair that the same rule be applied in his case as well. Soren had also been given nine days to prove his majority.

The beleaguered chief minister put up a brave front and claimed that not only will he prove his majority in the Assembly, but also expose the “real face” of the political parties out to destabilise his government.

“I am grateful to the governor for having allowed our government a week’s time to prove majority in the Assembly. We are ready for battle,” Munda said.

The Speaker, he said, would decide the date for holding the special session. Munda said he would himself hold the charge of the parliamentary affairs department during the special session. The department is now “headless” after Madhu Koda’s resignation.

A meeting of the truncated cabinet has been convened tomorrow afternoon.

Munda refused to comment on how his government will mobilise the support of at least four more MLAs to get through the trial of strength. “I will discuss and prove all such things on the floor of the House,” he said.

Addressing a news conference, Munda wondered why the four men did not meet him in person or give their original resignation letters.

“I have received the resignation letters of four of my ministers. They faxed me their resignations. I haven’t received their original letters,” Munda said.

As the NDA tried to figure out how to cobble together a majority, hectic talks continued in Delhi on the possible contours of a new government.

The JMM and RJD, which were yesterday agreeable to Koda as chief minister, were not so sure today.

The four former ministers held talks with RJD leader Lalu Prasad and JMM chief Shibu Soren through the day to press Koda’s name as chief minister. JMM sources said some leaders are still keen on Soren taking up the job, and if not, at least his candidate.

Koda today spent more than two hours at Soren’s North Avenue flat along with Ekka, Rai and Kamlesh. “What can I say' Let Guruji (Soren) decide,” Ekka told The Telegraph as he rushed for a meeting with Lalu Prasad. Koda said a final decision would be taken at a UPA meeting.

Soren played the messiah, leaving everything to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The allies plan to meet Sonia tomorrow, a JMM source said. The Congress was mum, saying the situation was “fluid”.

Live telecast

Razi said he would like the Speaker to arrange for video recording and direct telecast by the electronic media of the trust vote.


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