| Stephen Marandi’s supporters garland him after the oath-taking ceremony in Ranchi. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Oct. 8: Stephen Marandi was inducted into the Madhu Koda ministry today, paving the path for the Congress to claim the post of Speaker.
Besides Marandi, an Independent, Governor Syed Sibtey Razi administered oath this evening to Ajsu legislator Chandra Prakash Choudhary and JMM member Dulal Bhuiyan. Choudhary was a minister in the Arjun Munda-led NDA government as well.
However, the government’s attempt to induct a fourth legislator, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, failed following Raj Bhavan’s refusal to allow the move. Razi has asked Koda to clarify certain points before Sahi is allowed to join the ministry.
Koda said the expelled Forward Bloc leader could not be inducted into the ministry as some legal procedures were yet to be completed. “Besides, we have to get the approval of the Forward Bloc to induct him as a minister. I think the 12th minister will take oath by October 16,” the chief minister said.
Sources in the government said the UPA “crisis managers” have approached Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas to seek his nod. The party has decided to provide “outside support” to the new government.
State Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, along with Pakur MLA Alamgir Alam, will leave for Delhi tomorrow to discuss the issue with the party high command.
“The Congress candidate for the Speaker’s post will be decided after our talks with senior party leaders,” Balmuchu said.
Marandi had all along wanted to be the Speaker, a post the Congress, too, eyed. He even threatened to reconsider his support to the new government if the wish was not fulfilled.
Hectic parleys late last night and early this morning between senior UPA leaders, including steering panel chairman Shibu Soren, Koda and Marandi, resolved the issue.
“I accepted the offer to be a minister as the UPA leadership feels I am better suited for this job than that of the Speaker. I have been offered the post of the deputy chief minister by the UPA leadership and I have accepted it. The notification for the deputy chief minister’s post will be issued soon,” Marandi said.
Koda, however, declined to comment when asked about the post of deputy chief minister and that it had been offered to Marandi. “The allocation of portfolios will take place tomorrow. Everything will become clear then,” he said.
UPA ministers Bandhu Tirkey and Sudhir Mahto also could not clear the air on the post of deputy chief minister.
Lalu Prasad’ RJD, said UPA sources, would provide “outside support” to the Koda government.