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Back to square one after JMM’s FDI vote

Ranchi, Dec. 10: BJP is again faced with the dilemma of whether to continue to run the show with its “fickle” regional ally or snap ties after the JMM voted for the Manmohan Singh government in the Lok Sabha on the FDI issue even though it boycotted the motion in the Rajya Sabha.

The scenario is similar to the one of May 2010 when party supremo Shibu Soren sided with the UPA on Indo-US nuclear deal, prompting a first stunned and then belligerent BJP, then supporting the JMM government in Jharkhand, to withdraw support.

Consequently, Soren, then chief minister, stepped down and Arjun Munda took over the reigns of power as JMM agreed to pass on the baton to the BJP to keep President’s Rule and other parties at bay.

But the tables have turned now. The BJP, and not JMM, is at the helm of affairs. No wonder, the BJP has shied away from taking any drastic step, particularly when Munda is away in the US for medical check-up of his children, and is preferring to wait and watch.

At the other end of the political spectrum, JMM legislature party leader and deputy chief minister Hemant Soren, undeterred by the hue and cry being raised by BJP heavyweights in Delhi, has dared its ally to chose its own path. He maintained that the JMM was not an NDA component and was only supporting the BJP-led government in Jharkhand.

“If the Arjun Munda government falls, it will not be because of us. We don’t want to bring about political instability. But if the BJP really believes in doing what it says, it is free to go its own way. They had toppled the JMM-led government in Jharkhand about two and a half years ago in a similar manner. Now they are leading the government. Let them decide first. We have nothing to say,” Hemant said.

He, however, admitted that earlier, the JMM had strongly opposed FDI in retail during its mass campaigns. But he added that the MPs exercised their wisdom in Parliament and that no specific direction was given to them by the party organisation. Shibu Soren was not present during voting in Lok Sabha due to ill health.

“In 2010, Guruji had clarified that supporting the Congress in Lok Sabha on the nuclear deal should not have an impact on the government in Jharkhand. But all his reasons fell on deaf ears. The BJP is a principled party. We will honour its principled decisions now,” said a very sarcastic JMM core committee secretary Vinod Kumar Pandey.

Insiders claimed that by voting in favour of FDI, the JMM took revenge for the humiliations caused by BJP. Further, the party could not have afforded to take the risk of antagonising Congress because of the pending CBI inquiries against the Sorens.

Pandey, however, denied the CBI angle and added that the BJP should first get of its internal problems. “Everyone in the BJP wants to get rid of Arjun Munda. This was exposed thoroughly during the just concluded winter session of the assembly as well. The BJP members stayed away from the House on the issue of release of MLA funds under the leadership of Raghuvar Das. They also enjoyed speaker C.P. Singh’s support. MLAs of other parties had only backed the BJP led campaign in the House,” he alleged.

A somewhat bewildered state BJP president Dineshanand Goswami argued that his party did not lust for power and finally, the central leadership would take a call on the future of ties with JMM. But he did admit that the BJP had counted on “small parties” for “positive support” during the voting on FDI.

“We decided to form a government with JMM support to end President’s Rule and work for the state’s positive growth. We have succeeded to a considerable extent,” he added.