Governor plays god for Soren

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By OUR BUREAU in Ranchi
  • Published 2.03.05

Ranchi, March 2: The Jharkhand governor today handed the state a chief minister ? Shibu Soren, whose alliance had won 10 seats less than the largest pre-poll coalition.

In a throwback to the era of political intrigue in Raj Bhavans, Congress ally and JMM leader Soren received the invitation to power barely four hours after five Independent legislators met governor Syed Sibtey Razi and pledged support to the BJP-led alliance.

In less than three hours, a seven-member government was sworn in to succeed the four-and-a-half-year-old NDA government.

The invitation and coronation catapulted the state on to the national political stage and set off a chain of events ? including a high-voltage airport drama ? that made the day one of the most tumultuous since the Manmohan Singh government assumed power at the Centre.

The BJP-led combine, which had won 36 seats in the 81-member Assembly, and the Congress alliance claimed before the governor that they had the support of 41 members each ? the number needed for a simple majority.

The irreconcilable feat was achieved because both lists had a common name ? Ainosh Ekka, who belongs to a one-MLA party christened the Jharkhand Party.

Soren will have to prove majority in the House by March 21, the deadline fixed by the governor.

If the BJP alliance claimed the support of five Independents to reach the magic figure, the Congress banked, among other sources, on a quid pro quo with Laloo Prasad Yadav.

The RJD chief, who is struggling to cling to power in Bihar, claimed in Patna that he had ensured a UPA government in Jharkhand and ?made? Stephen Marandi ? a staunch opponent of Soren till yesterday ? the new chief minister?s deputy.

A grateful Congress reciprocated by offering a letter of support to Laloo Prasad in Bihar. Soren?s move to induct two RJD ministers in the evening was further indication of the ?deal? and it is being widely speculated that Bihar governor Buta Singh is set to do a Razi in Bihar.

Fireballs of protest exploded in Ranchi. NDA supporters hit the streets in the state capital and have called a ?chakka jam? in Jharkhand on Thursday.

In the evening, two ministers, fresh from the swearing-in, made an abortive bid in Ranchi to block a plane carrying NDA legislators to Delhi.

The plane landed in Delhi late tonight with 33 passengers. They are expected to be paraded before the President tomorrow.

In Delhi, Parliament was crippled and the Opposition is thinking of boycotting the entire budget session. The BJP, which itself was not impervious to charges of Raj Bhavan misuse when in power, likened the governor?s action to ?almost the same as the Emergency of 1975 without the same honesty?.

But governor Razi defended himself, saying: ?I decided to invite Soren to form a government with an open mind. After verifying the reports by ?different sources?, I felt that Soren can provide a stable government in the state.?