The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trouble for Koda from restive JMM

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Sept 25: The storm-clouds hovering over the Madhu Koda-led government darkened today with fissures in the JMM coming out in the open; and Stephen Marandi sticking to his claim to the Speaker’s chair.

Amid the tug-of-war for the remaining four ministerial slots in the state, RJD chief Lalu Prasad extracted his first pound of flesh by forcing the state government to appoint B.B. Singh, a lawyer of his choice, as the standing counsel of the state government at the Supreme Court. In one of the first decisions taken by the chief minister, who has still not been able to distribute portfolios to the ministers, Singh was appointed replacing Pinky Anand as the standing counsel. Singh was the standing counsel of the Bihar government during the tenure of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi as chief ministers.

The new government faced an even more serious threat with the largest constituent of the alliance, JMM, appearing on the verge of a split, unable to cope with ministerial ambitions. Salkhan Soren, the MLA from Gandey, sources claimed, called on party chief Shibu Soren and wondered why his claim was ignored even after he has been winning the “general” seat for the last four consecutive terms.

More discordant notes emanated from the husband of another JMM legislator, Sushila Hansda, when he declared that if she is denied a berth in the cabinet, she would seriously consider severing her relations with the party. As if all this was not enough, Chakradharpur MLA Salkhan Oraon has come out with a statement that while he does not have any ministerial ambition himself, at least three other JMM MLAs would not hesitate to part with the party if Dulal Bhuiyan and Champai Soren are not included in the ministry.

While the JMM legislators appear upset at the party chief not taking them into confidence, others privately have started saying that the government would not last.

Independent MLA Stephen Marandi, meanwhile, dared the Congress to publicly and officially stake claim to the Speaker’s chair. Girinath Singh of the RJD, newly sworn-in minister Bandhu Tirkey and even Congress leaders continued their efforts to persuade him to give up his claim. But the professor from Santhal Pargana remained adamant.

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