Talks between Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leaders for an alliance in the state are in final stages as six months of President’s Rule in the state end in two weeks’ time. Congress president Sonia Gandhi met senior leaders of the party on Wednesday morning and Jharkhand state congress leaders remained present in Delhi too.
Recently-appointed All-India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Jharkhand BK Hariprasad, AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed who was earlier state in charge for Jharkhand met the Congress President and defence minister AK Anthony head of a sub-group within the party for alliances in the next year’s general elections. State congress leaders who were present in Delhi along with JMM leaders met with Rastriya Janta Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav as well. In the 82-member assembly, JMM with 18 MLAs and Congress with 13 MLAs are looking at forming the government with the support of five MLAs from RJD and six Indepdendents.
“Hariprasad ji met Mrs Gandhi and apprised her of the talks in Jharkhand. We met RJD leader Laloo Prasad who said he would always support secular forces and back the UPA. The central leadership has not conveyed any decision to state leaders,” said Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Chief Sukhdeo Bhagat from New Delhi.
While JMM leaders had proposed forming government in the state in alliance with the congress since the party withdrew support to the BJP-led government in January. Congress’ central leadership have showed more willingness to form an alliance in the state only in the last few weeks with an eye on gathering more allies for the general elections next year. Of 14 Lok Sabha seats, JMM – whom the Congress allied with general elections in 2004 and 2009 - has offered Congress a majority of the seats to contest from. In the previous general elections, in 2004, the United Progressive Alliance had won 10 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats — six by Congress and four by JMM. In 2009, this number fell to three with Congress winning only in Ranchi.
JMM’s chief Shibu Soren’s son and deputy chief minister in the previous Arjun Munda government Hemant Soren who may head the government if an alliance is formed and JMM leader Champai Soren met RJD leaders in Delhi too.
“We expect UPA will immediately announce only its alliance with the JMM for the Lok Sabha elections this week. The alliance to form the state government may follow in a few days,” said a JMM leader.