Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Arjun Munda is all set to become Chief Minister of Jharkhand for the second time. He is likely to take over in a couple of days after May 25, when the incumbent Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief, Shibu Soren, is expected to resign.

As per a deal clinched between the BJP and the JMM, after 28 months of leading the government, the former will make way for a chief minister of the latter for the next 28 months, BJP sources here said on Tuesday.

The breakthrough came after a meeting between Mr. Munda and Mr. Soren in Ranchi. The latter's son, Hemans Soren, who is the leader of the JMM Legislature Party; and leader of the All India Jharkhand Students' Union Suresh Math were present at the meeting. Emerging from the meeting, Mr. Shibu Soren told journalists that he would soon resign.

Though Mr. Munda's name has not been officially announced, the sources indicated that it would be done only after Mr. Shibu Soren resigns and the JMM gave a letter of support to the BJP.

The BJP's understanding is the JMM supremo will resign on or around May 25. In any case, he will have to resign in a month as he has not been able to get himself elected to the Assembly.

Strong message

BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Friday asked Mr. Munda to go to Ranchi and finalise a power-sharing agreement with the JMM. By sending Mr. Munda, he seems to have sent out a strong message that the issue of who would be the BJP's chief minister had been decided.

Those in the party who were not happy with this choice — notably L.K. Advani and his group — continued to try and undo a deal with the JMM by opposing a rotation of the chief ministerial position arrangement and by getting some dissidents to raise other issues through JMM legislators.

It has taken the BJP all of three weeks to arrive at a political solution to resolve the crisis that is largely created by the BJP Parliamentary Board's decision on April 28 to withdraw support to the JMM-led government in which the BJP is a coalition partner. Later, with Mr. Hemans Soren offering to support a BJP-led government, the withdrawal-of-support decision was kept in abeyance.

“Balancing act”

Mr. Gadkari has recently tried to manage the internal squabbles by “balancing” his decisions — giving in to one leader on one issue and to another on a different problem. In the last couple of days, Arun Jaitley was allowed to have his way in the matter of appointment of the State presidents of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi; on Tuesday, Ananth Kumar was given charge of Bihar, where Assembly elections are due in a few months; and on Jharkhand, Mr. Gadkari seems to have taken the advice given by the former BJP president, Rajnath Singh.

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