|Hemant Soren and Bandhu Tirkey
Ranchi, May 11: The Hemant Soren government is caught in a tricky numbers game with ally Congress unwilling to be a part of any backdoor activity to marshal support for the coalition’s survival.
In this scenario, Hemant’s hope for survival hinges on the backing of two Trinamul Congress (TMC) MLAs — Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda.
Both Tirkey and Linda are extending crucial life support to the JMM-Congress-RJD combine even merging their respective fledgling parties with the TMC before Lok Sabha polls.
Though it is for the TMC central team to take a call on whether the party should stand by the JMM, Tirkey — an MP hopeful from Ranchi this time — is apparently cosying up to Hemant with an eye on a ministerial berth.
And if sources in the JMM and Trinamul are to be believed, Tirkey has also hinted at an alliance between the two parties for the Assembly elections to be held later this year.
“He is trying to convince his TMC bosses that withdrawing support from the government won’t help fulfil any long-term party objective. Instead, he is insisting the TMC-JMM alliance would be a wise undertaking that can profit both,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
State Trinamul convener Dilip Chatterjee did not deny anything when asked about Tirkey’s reported move to join hands with the JMM.
“I have heard it and spoken to him on it. Yes, Tirkey is a seasoned leader and understands situations. But, I personally feel it will be counter-productive. Right now, party members are divided on the (alliance) issue,” Chatterjee said.
While Tirkey seems to be open to join the Hemant government, another leader Chandra Shekhar Dubey, formerly of the Congress who contested the Dhanbad Lok Sabha seat on a TMC ticket, is in no mood to allow this government to stay for a minute.
The reason is known. The former Congress MLA and minister had the most unceremonious exit from the government following major differences with chief minister Hemant Soren.
Dubey also resigned as the member of the Assembly after joining the TMC.
“Now that Tirkey is in the TMC, he should keep aside his personal ambition (of being a minister in the Hemant-led government). This government must go. I am sure that Mamata Banerjee won’t support it,” Dubey said.
But what if the TMC did decide to extend support to Hemant? “Then I will have no place in the party,” responded Dubey without mincing words.
When asked, Bandhu denied having any motive to join the government.
The JMM has been at the receiving end of setbacks, one after another, in recent times.
While Hemlal Murmu and Bidyut Baran Mahto deserted the party to join the BJP before the polls, Hemant last week dismissed rebel JMM minister Simon Marandi for “anti-party activities”.
Hemant is now desperately looking to induct a minister in the cabinet to fill up Simon’s place. Nonetheless, a section of the party feels any effort to rope in Tirkey in the ministry may serve short term political objectives, but would be counter-productive in long run.
A senior leader added Santhal Pargana with 18 Assembly seats was important for the survival of the JMM. With two important party leaders — Hemlal and Simon — rubbing the party the wrong way, the JMM needs someone from the region to resurrect its base.
Further, the Congress might play a spoilsport if the JMM tries to bring TMC on board.
JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya accepted that the coalition was on sticky ground but denied that there was any talk on induction of Tirkey in the state government.