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Reluctant Congress puts JMM in a fix

Ranchi, Jan. 21: Jharkhand, it appears, is on the backburner for the Congress and it may take at least another two weeks to decide whether to support formation of an alternative government in Jharkhand.

In Jaipur, Congress workers from Jharkhand had petitioned the party leadership that forming an alternative government at this stage would be suicidal. “So long the party high-command was under the impression that a majority of party workers were in the favour of an alternative government. Now, they have come to know the truth. And, no senior Congress leader takes Jharkhand seriously,” commented an AICC member, who participated in the meetings.

AICC general secretary and party’s Jharkhand in-charge Shakeel Ahmed, however, said that the party may take some more time, another fortnight perhaps, to come to a decision.

Senior leaders, he said, were expected to meet in Delhi soon to discuss suggestions received at the just concluded Jaipur conclave. But, he remained evasive when asked to spell out whether his party was serious about forming an alternative government or not.

“Since the Jharkhand Assembly remains under suspended animation, we ought to take firm decisions soon. But, we will not let uncertainty loom large. If the party feels that we should not help formation of an alternative government, the governor may dissolve the House and pave way for fresh elections,” he clarified.

Ahmed, however, denied Jharkhand wasn’t being taken seriously by the Congress high-command. “State presidents and legislature party leaders of several other states, too, weren’t given opportunities to air their views, due to paucity of time. There may be discrepancies, but neglect of Jharkhand is not true,” he added.

Somewhat bewildered by the Congress’s apparent “U-turn” JMM central committee member Supriyo Bhattacharya said they would wait for an official communication by the Congress. He also ruled out a fresh alliance with the BJP.

“The ball is now in Congress’s court. They have to decide how democratic institutions should function in the existing scenario. We had clarified at the very outset that we are not scared of President’s Rule and fresh Assembly elections,” he added.

Former chief minister Arjun Munda offered a mysterious smile when asked to comment. “Both the Congress and the JMM seem to have fallen into their own traps and that the BJP may become the ultimate beneficiary,” he said.

BJP spokesman Amarpreet Singh Kale, however, chose to be sarcastic when he said that AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi was sipping the “sweet poison” of gaining power in Jharkhand cautiously.

“While seeking a public mandate, he will also have to explain whether he tried to incite social tension while reminding everyone about his grandmother, Indira Gandhi’s killing in 1984,” he said, referring to Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the Jaipur conclave.