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Cong drags feet on JMM ties

Ranchi, May 19: The BJP’s near-clean sweep in Jharkhand has not only rendered the Congress and the Trinamul Congress faceless in the state, but also robbed them of their sting.

While the Congress is dogged by apprehensions that withdrawal of support from the Hemant Soren government may provide the BJP a free run, the TMC, which even during campaigns flexed muscles with its two MLAs, seems to have turned stoic now.

The state Congress has made it clear that it would like to contest the Assembly polls alone, and is awaiting a nod from the central leadership.

With the Congress Working Committee meeting in Delhi today to reflect on the party’s worst-ever performance in the general elections, state leaders believe matters related to Jharkhand would also be discussed.

Insiders said Congress general secretary Jharkhand in-charge B.K. Hariprasad and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh had already held talks with state leaders a couple of times to chalk out a fresh strategy. But, nothing was discussed on support to the JMM-led government.

A faction of the party wants to withdraw from the current coalition arrangement. “The very purpose behind forming a JMM-Congress-RJD government was to help the UPA consolidate its base. Since the objective could not be achieved, the party should now get rid of the burden,” said a senior leader.

However, another group in the party has a counter logic that the fall of the government would mean offering the BJP Jharkhand on the platter.

The TMC was overconfident about its electoral prospect in Jharkhand, but the NaMo wave cut it down to size. Though survival of the state government to an extent depends on the support of two TMC MLAs Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda, the earlier bellicosity of party leaders seems to have disappeared.

“The scenario has changed and we need to take a decision accordingly,” said state TMC convener Dilip Chatterjee, adding the party’s central leadership was expected to take a call on Jharkhand very soon.

Interestingly, the BJP’s phenomenal surge in Jharkhand — the party won 12 out of the 14 seats in the state — is proving to be a deterrent for parties, who would otherwise have tried to pull down the coalition government by now.

The BJP, on its part, has ruled out any efforts to topple the government.

Former chief minister and senior BJP leader Arjun Munda said the party would rather allow the government to turn more unpopular, which would benefit the BJP in the long run.

“The government will crumble under its own weight. Infighting among coalition partners, coupled with policy paralysis, will add to the government’s sufferings in the coming days,” Munda said.

The actual strength of the Jharkhand Assembly is 82, but it has now come down to 78 following the resignation of two former JMM and one ex-Congress MLAs and the victory of BJP MLA Laxman Gilua from Singhbhun parliamentary seat.

Currently, chief minister Hemant Soren enjoys support of 40 MLAs — JMM 16, Congress 12, RJD 5, TMC 2, MCC 1 and Independents 5 — that is enough for the survival of the government.


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