Delhi ray of hope for Soren - State Cong backs JMM chief, Koda still confident

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By SUDHIR KUMAR MISHRA in Ranchi
  • Published 20.08.08
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Ranchi, Aug. 20: JMM chief Shibu Soren today left for New Delhi along with party MLAs and two BJP rebels after receiving assurances from state Congress leaders that not only would they back his claim to the Jharkhand chief minister’s chair, but would also work on Independents for their support.

Soren’s departure for Delhi — he was accompanied by party strongman Sudhir Mahto, HRD minister Bandhu Tirkey and BJP rebels Vishnu Bhaiya and Manohar Tekriwal — was in the backdrop of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s feelers that the JMM leader should take the initiative to meet UPA leaders.

According to Delhi-based RJD sources, Lalu was apparently of the opinion that “governments cannot be formed over telephone” and that if things did not work out for Soren in Jharkhand, the RJD could help him join the Union Cabinet.

“I have received positive assurances from Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel as well.”

“I have the support of more than 45 MLAs, but let Koda prove his majority first,” he said before boarding his flight to Delhi.

“My fight is against rampant corruption. The alliance partners may bluff me, but

they cannot cheat the common masses,” he added.

Soren argued that President’s Rule was the last option.

Criticising Koda for going ahead with crucial decisions, he said: “I will also write to the governor about the arbitrary decisions being taken by the chief minister even after his government was reduced to a minority.”

Soren received a shot in the arm today with the state Congress announcing its support for him.

State party chief Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu and senior leader Abdul Mannan told newsmen: “We always wanted Soren to become chief minister and now we will also be garnering the support of Independents in his favour.”

Independents Stephen Marandi, Bhanu Pratap, Kamlesh Kumar Singh, Joba Manjhi and Chandra Prakash Choudhary and RJD legislature party leader Annapurna Devi held a closed-door meeting with chief minister Madhu Koda in the afternoon and resolved to wait for a clear directive from the UPA central leadership.

According to sources in the Koda camp, the chief minister will be going to Delhi in a day or two and was banking on his political patron former Maharashtra home minister Kripa Shankar Singh who is said to be lobbying in his favour with Ahmed Patel.

“Everything should be discussed with an open mind at a closed-door meeting. I am not going to comment on remarks by individuals, but none of the central UPA leaders has so far asked me to step down. Thus, the question of my resignation does not arise. I will be going to Delhi after getting directions from the Centre,” he said.