The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Soren sounds Sonia on merger

New Delhi, Feb. 10: The Opposition in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand may witness a significant political regrouping as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha headed by Shibu Soren is understood to have approached the Congress with a “merger” proposal.

Soren and his top JMM colleagues, according to sources, recently met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the capital to express their desire to merge the two parties. A top Congress leader from the state accompanied the JMM leaders to the meeting.

The sources said the JMM’s offer is “unconditional” and Soren and his colleagues, soon after meeting Sonia, held detailed discussions on the issue with senior Congress leaders at the AICC. Sections within the state Congress are very supportive of the idea as “it will help the party to effectively counter the BJP’s base among the tribals”.

The Congress high command has, however, kept the JMM offer under wraps for the time being. The central leadership is seeking to build a consensus with the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) before taking a final decision.

Apparently, some top leaders in the state Congress, including AICC secretary Subodh Kant Sahai, have some reservations about the proposed merger. “They still believe the Congress should be on its own in Jharkhand,” the sources said.

In principle, however, the Congress leadership is believed to be positively inclined to the idea of merging with the JMM, according to the sources, as it will help expand the party’s base to effectively counter the ruling BJP in the state. Moreover, it would be in line with the party’s latest resolve to consolidate the Opposition before the next general elections.

The JPCC is due for a revamp since Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu is at present functioning as working president. Sonia is likely to take a decision on reconstituting the JPCC after arriving at a final view on the JMM’s proposal. Sources say the revamp has been deliberately kept in abeyance in view of Soren’s merger offer.

Traditional rivals in Jharkhand electoral politics, the Congress and the JMM have given indications of warming up to each other. In the backdrop of the ongoing merger consultations, the Congress has decided to support the JMM candidate in the Poriyahat Assembly byelection on February 26. The bypoll follows BJP member Pradeep Yadav’s recent election to the Lok Sabha from the Godda parliamentary seat.

Email This Page