The Bharatiya Janata Party has been forced to wait and watch in Jharkhand, unable to carry out its earlier threat of withdrawing support from the Shibu Soren government, even as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha let it be known on Sunday that its Chief Minister will continue in his position “as of now.”

No time limit has been set for the JMM to put its house in order as it became clear to the BJP that the 18-member ruling party and its coalition partner in the State were divided on who should lead the government. Besides, some members of the JMM were keen to open up negotiations with the United Progressive Alliance rather than continue the relationship with the BJP.

No talks were held here on Sunday among the BJP, the JMM and other partners in the State. Authoritative sources indicated that on Saturday night it was put to the JMM that it should first sort out its internal party differences and then talk to the BJP to firm up the post-Shibu Soren scenario.

The Chief Minister's son, Hemant Soren, the JMM legislature party leader was back in Ranchi on Sunday. He is reported to have said that Shibu Soren would stay for now.

After having hastily announced a decision of withdrawal of support “which would have brought down the government in Jharkhand” following last week's vote against the Opposition-sponsored cut motion in Parliament by Shibu Soren, the BJP leadership is now wary of its consequences fearing it could lead to President's Rule.

Said a senior party leader: “We want to avoid President's Rule. The JMM will have to take a decision soon as Shibu Soren will have to go as he has failed to get himself elected to the State Assembly. His time will run out in less than two months.”

The JMM has also bought time for itself by stringing the BJP along with the promise that it could be willing to support a BJP-led government.

The question now is how long will the BJP wait? A senior general secretary said there is no time limit. But, in any case the party knows that two months is the outer limit and a more reasonable time-frame, a leader suggested, would be anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.

Ready to form government: Marandi

PTI reports from Ranchi:

Babulal Marandi, chief of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantric), said on Sunday that his party was ready to form a government, if the secular forces supported it.

Accusing the BJP of “laying the foundation for political instability” in March 2003 by replacing him with Arjun Munda as Chief Minister, Mr. Marandi said: “The BJP has once again pushed Jharkhand into political uncertainty, and it will have to pay for it.” .