The BJP, which entered into negotiations with the JMM here on Saturday, for the formation of a government in Jharkhand, is worried on several counts: will Chief Minister Shibu Soren's son Hemant Soren be able to persuade his father to resign? Will differences within the JMM over support to the BJP mean a new government will not survive for more than a few months? Would it be better to allow the JMM politics to play out after bringing down the present government?

By late afternoon some JMM leaders, Janata Dal (United) state leader Jaleshwar Mahto and All India Jharkhand Students' Union leader Sudesh Mahto were closeted with BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Ananth Kumar and Ramlal. From the JMM, Mr. Hemant Soren and Teklal Mahto are reported to have participated in the discussions that went on for several hours.

The negotiations are expected to continue on Sunday when senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley return here from Ahmedabad.

A senior party leader said the JMM with 18 MLAs could not go with the UPA and its ally, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha of Babulal Marandi, because their constituencies were not complementary. The JVM and the JMM were rivals for the same vote-bank and there was no way the JVM would agree to be a partner in a government in which the JMM also participated.

This means that if the Congress with its 14 MLAs were to join hands with the 11-member JVM, the JMM would not join the government. And if the Congress were to stitch up an alliance with the JMM, the JVM would keep itself out. The AJSU with 5 MLAs could go either way, and the Congress may also be able to persuade the Rashtriya Janata Dal with its 5 MLAs to join a government.

Apprehension

The BJP is also acutely aware that the Congress may favour President's Rule until at least the Bihar Assembly elections, due later this year, are out of the way. The BJP fears that this could have some adverse effect on the poll prospects of the JD(U)-BJP ruling combine.