Ranchi, Oct. 21: Chief minister Hemant Soren is going to head the state co-ordination committee that is likely to be formed within a week or so to aid and advise the coalition government on various critical issues.
While the development is being seen as a “victory” for the JMM, especially Hemant who managed to prevail upon the Congress to grab the key post, Congress insiders termed it as a “power-balancing act” to keep the coalition afloat.
Interestingly, soon after the formation of the government, the Congress on July 29 had publicly named Congress general secretary Jharkhand in-charge B.K. Hariprasad as the committee’s chairman.
“Hariprasadji personally told me a few days back that he wanted me to head the committee. We are working out the format of the committee. I think it will be a six-man panel that will periodically review the performance of the government. It is an example of fine understanding among allies for a common and larger goal,” Hemant told The Telegraph.
Hariprasad admitted that he had asked Hemant to take the charge, but didn’t explain the reason behind the Congress’s “U-turn”.
Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat, minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, RJD minister Annapurna Devi and its chief Girinath Singh are likely to be other members of the newly proposed committee.
Hemant is keen to induct Independent MLA Bandhu Tirkey to partially pacify him — he is upset for not getting any ministerial berth — but, the Congress is not keen.
In August, the two key coalition partners were at loggerheads when the Congress sent a format of the co-ordination committee to Hemant, seeking his approval for the panel.
It was a 10-member committee. Apart from Hariprasad, Bhagat, Rajendra Prasad, state party co-in-charge Tarachand Bhagora, Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay and former Assembly Speaker Alamgir Alam were part of this key panel. Both the JMM and the RJD were asked to name two members each for the committee.
Hemant, however, objected to the committee, which lacked fair representation from all allies.
Unwilling to play a second fiddle, Junior Soren pointed out to the Congress leadership that “the committee in the present form would only buttress rumours that the Congress was remote controlling the government”.
Even some Congress leaders did not find merit behind making a jumbo committee that was nearly to the size of the present state Cabinet.
An embarrassed Congress was forced to backtrack, and re-christen it as Congress co-ordination Committee.
“While forging the alliance it was decided that two committees — one at the state-level and another at the central level — would be formed. The central-level panel, monitoring committee, is to be headed by Union minister Jairam Ramesh. You can’t keep both the panels,” a senior JMM leader explained.
Congress insiders said if this new committee worked out, Sahay would be a loser.
Sahay had been lobbying hard for a place in the committee. But his claim is believed to have been rejected by national vice-president Rahul Gandhi.