The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday announced its intention to start serious negotiations for the formation of a government in Jharkhand minus current Chief Minister Shibu Soren.

The former Chief Minister Arjun Munda is emerging as the front runner for the Chief Minister's job, that is, if the BJP were indeed to get the promised support of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha to lead the government.

But so far there has been no direct word from the present incumbent that he is ready to resign to make way for a new government.

Party leaders have begun contacting all the coalition partners that together set up the Shibu Soren government four months ago. Hemant Soren and Sudesh Mahto, leader of the All India Jharkhand Students' Union, have been asked to come to Delhi for negotiations.

Rajnath Singh the pointsman

The talks are expected to be held in right earnest on Saturday. The former party president Rajnath Singh, who had played a key role in the formation of the previous Arjun Munda government, has again emerged as the BJP pointsman for this exercise.

After a morning meeting of its Parliamentary Board it became clear that it was formally taking up the offer that has come from Hemant Soren, son of Shibu Soren, who is the legislative party leader of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha that his party was ready to support a BJP-led government.

The party leadership disclosed that it was aware of differences between the Sorens and it was not very clear how these would be sorted out without a split in the 18-member strong JMM legislative party.

The earlier BJP decision of withdrawal of support to the Shibu Soren government taken in anger after he had voted against the Opposition-sponsored cut motion has been for the moment “kept on hold.”

Its legislative party leader and deputy chief minister in Jharkhand Raghuvar Das has been told not to meet the Governor to withdraw support.

Munde clarifies

On Thursday there were whispers among BJP leaders that the party decision on support withdrawal was changed because some central party leaders had “business interests” in the State.

On Friday when this question was put to deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, he said: “There is nothing wrong in doing business (‘business karna galat nahin').”