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New govt will be BJP’s biggest worry

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Having reconciled to loss of power in Ranchi, the BJP now hopes to “work hard” on improving its tally in the next election.

But party men admitted that was easier said than done because the BJP did not rule out the prospect of an alternative formation, cobbled by the Congress and JMM with the other parties, coming into being. They said if that happened, the prospective government could last its tenure, especially if headed by JMM chief Shibu Soren.

Although the BJP looked like it would try and make the best of a bad situation, sources admitted several in-house issues needed to be sorted out before the party could get back a spring in its step.

For one, some central leaders, notably L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Yashwant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi were not too happy with former chief minister Arjun Munda.

There was a view in Delhi that Munda functioned “unilaterally”, because he believed that Nitin Gadkari and by implication, the BJP president’s patron, the RSS, were “on his side”. Many central leaders were allegedly “clueless” about Munda’s political moves because he was never in touch with them.

A senior leader asked a pertinent question. When it was more than apparent that the JMM was in touch with the Congress, and had scripted its pullout from the Munda government after an “assurance” of support, why had the chief minister not alerted Delhi?

“At least, we could have worked out alternative strategies to save the government by conceding partially to (Shibu) Soren’s demands. By taking a non-negotiable position on the chief minister’s post and insisting that it would be Munda and nobody else, the BJP played its cards badly. In running a coalition, we have to be more flexible,” another party leader said.

Others felt that since Jharkhand was unlikely to yield a clear verdict in the near future and that the BJP and the Congress would have to do business with the JMM and other regional entities, a “give-and-take” stance was “advisable”.

The buzz of activity, marked with meetings, one-on-one confabulations and prolonged phone conversations, normally seen whenever a BJP-ruled state plunged into a crisis, was not visible this time. Only Gadkari and an aide of his, Vinay Sahasthrabuddhe — he has been touring Ranchi frequently —were in the loop.

With the government gone and a perception settling in that Munda too would be politically hobbled, a section of the BJP is suggesting that leaders should try and get back estranged leader Babulal Marandi and even project him as the party’s face in Jharkhand.

“If Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti have returned, why shouldn’t we get back Marandi?” a leader asked.

Thus, from now on, leaders who were looped out of Jharkhand, were expected to have a bigger say in its affairs.


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