Ranchi/Delhi, March 9: Former chief minister Arjun Munda has resigned as BJP legislature party leader, apparently miffed at not being considered for the job of heading the state unit in Jharkhand that is likely to see Assembly elections by the end of the year.
In a one-line resignation letter sent to party president Rajnath Singh today, Munda is learnt to have said that he could “work conscientiously” for the party without “holding a formal position.”
Singh welcomed the move. “Who gives up a post these days? It is a good gesture from Munda,” the BJP chief, who had played a key role in anointing Munda as chief minister, told The Telegraph in Delhi.
According to sources, the BJP central leadership’s understanding was that the former Jharkhand chief minister had quit in pique after he realised he would not be asked to head the state party outfit.
Apparently, Munda made it clear to the leadership that if it was disinclined towards him, the “next best choice” would be Ravinder Rai. Sources indicated that there was a toss-up between Rai and Raghuvar Das, with an “edge” to Rai.
In Ranchi, Munda refused to say anything beyond a measured statement on the prevailing mist surrounding the appointment of the state BJP president. “The central leadership of the party is handling the matter,” he told The Telegraph.
But with his party colleagues in the state, he was more forthright in indicating his displeasure.
“Ab aap log party ko jaise chalana chahen waise chalyen. Maine aaplogon ke liye rasta saaf kar diya hai (Now you people run the party the way you like. I have cleared the way for you),” he is learnt to have told a senior state BJP leader as soon as word spread about his resignation.
Some influential leaders in Delhi were pitching for Munda and argued that since it was a “given” that he would lead the BJP in the next Assembly elections, he should also be entrusted with the party’s command so that dual power centres — one helmed by the Jharkhand party chief and the other by the prospective chief ministerial candidate — were not created.
However, it seems that view did not prevail.
Asked about Munda’s future, Rajnath said, “He said clearly he was prepared to work without holding a post.”
The BJP president refused to indicate who would take over the party in Jharkhand. But Rai, an upper caste Bhumihar, was emerging as a frontrunner, although it did not mean he would be the party’s chief ministerial face.
Rajnath said the name would be announced soon.
The rationale behind bringing in a non-tribal was to consolidate the votes of these groups that the BJP believe were among its core supporters. Tribal votes, the party leadership feels, were split between the BJP, Congress and regional parties.