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Rahul questions support to JMM govt

Ranchi, June 3: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have questioned the wisdom of senior party leaders, who had advocated forming a coalition government in Jharkhand to boost the party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Gandhi scion also observed that the Congress did not need any “cosmetic arrangement”, like government formation, to rejuvenate the party’s organisational base, putting a question mark on the longevity of the Hemant Soren government.

State Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat, Legislative Party leader Rajendra Prasad Singh, national general secretary in-charge of Jharkhand B.K. Hariprasad and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh were summoned to Delhi yesterday for a series of high-level meetings with party president Sonia Gandhi, national vice-president Rahul and other senior central leaders.

While state leaders met Sonia in the morning, Rahul discussed the party’s future roadmap for around an hour in the evening.

According to sources, Rahul sought to know if the government formation — a precondition of the JMM to strike a pre-poll alliance with the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections — helped the national party anyway.

Rahul recalled that he was told in July last year that a government in place would consolidate the party’s position during the parliamentary polls in Jharkhand, where the Congress lost all the nine seats it contested.

The JMM, nevertheless, managed to win two seats.

“Do you admit that the decision to form the government was politically a wrong decision? Do you still hold on to the same argument (that ties with the JMM will help) now?” the sources quoted Rahul as asking.

State Congress leaders, nevertheless, sought to pass the blame on the Hemant Soren government.

“Instead of trying to improve governance and delivery mechanism, chief minister Hemant wasted time in controversial issues, like sand mine auctions. The controversy not only dented the government’s image but also provided the Opposition enough ammo against the coalition partners,” one of the state Congress leaders said.

They also rued that Hemant did not stick to the common minimum programme, which was agreed upon by the two parties at the time of forging the alliance last year.

However, Rahul did not stretch the debate further and asked the state unit to be in a combative mood from now on.

Also, the Congress vice president said a single man should not be blamed for the poor show in Jharkhand, indicating a breather for state unit chief Bhagat who has been in the line of fire.

“We discussed the party’s future plan of action in Jharkhand. We will raise issues concerning the common people. We need to connect with them. We are going to hold a chintan shivir in the middle of this month to steer the party in the right direction,” said Bhagat, who was scheduled to return to Jharkhand in the evening today.

Insiders claimed pro and cons of continuing support to the Hemant government would top the agenda of the meeting.