The Bharatiya Janata Party's Jharkhand crisis seems drawing to a close with the party firming up support from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and others to head a new government that it expects to be sworn in next week.
The BJP made it clear that its government will complete the remaining tenure of over four-and-a-half years. There will be no rotation of Chief Ministers as suggested by the JMM.
Apparently, the fear of President's Rule if the BJP were to carry out its threat of withdrawing support made the JMM decide in favour of a BJP-led government. In any case, a crisis would have come in less than two months when time would have run out for Shibu Soren, who has to meet the mandatory requirement of getting himself elected to the Assembly within six months of becoming Chief Minister. At that time too, the BJP could have refused to support a government led by the Chief Minister's son, Hemant Soren.
The BJP Parliamentary Board is expected to meet on Monday to finalise its chief ministerial candidate. A week ago, the former Chief Minister, Arjun Munda, was considered the top favourite. Hazaribagh MP and senior leader Yashwant Sinha and BJP Legislative Party leader Raghuvar Das were also in the reckoning.
The party announced its intention of working out a common minimum programme for governance with its alliance partners.
Saturday's development suggests that the BJP may settle for a Chief Minister “from among the MLAs,” as one leader said. If this principle is applied, Mr. Das may emerge as the man for the top job. There is a view that selecting an MP will mean getting him elected to the Assembly and also the party facing a Lok Sabha by-election. Mr. Sinha, it is felt, is too senior a leader and should not be sent as Chief Minister to a State where the ruling coalition would remain unstable.
Differences erupted between the two main coalition partners — the BJP and the JMM — after Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren voted against the cut motion. The day after the vote, the BJP Parliamentary Board decided to withdraw support to his government, but put the decision on hold after a letter from Hemant Soren offered the JMM's support to a BJP-led government.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari, general secretaries Ramlal and Ananth Kumar, Raghuvar Das, son of the Chief Minister and JMM Legislative Party leader Hemant Soren, and All-India Jharkhand Students' Union president Sudesh Mahto, among others, were present at Saturday's meeting.
Immediately afterwards, Mr. Kumar announced that the present partners in the current coalition government — the JMM, the AJSU and the Janata Dal (United) and some Independents — had all agreed on the BJP leading the government, and the Parliamentary Board would meet on Monday to finalise the party's chief ministerial candidate. The central leadership will then send an observer to Ranchi to follow things through.
However, the BJP was not yet ready to say when Mr. Shibu Soren would resign to pave the way for a new dispensation. “It will happen. The marriage has been decided,” Mr. Kumar said.