The Bharatiya Janata Party Parliamentary Board on Monday decided to postpone selection of the Jharkhand chief ministerial candidate, even as lobbying by various aspirants has begun and as uncertainty continues about support from some Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLAs who are not too keen on backing a BJP-led government.
About a dozen BJP legislators, led by Speaker C.P. Singh, landed in the capital over the weekend, telling the leadership that the choice should be Mr. Singh “or the former Chief Minister Arjun Munda.”
Some senior leaders expressed a view that the candidate for the top job should be selected from among MLAs, and it should not go to an MP — that would effectively rule out Arjun Munda and Yashwant Sinha.
General secretary Ramlal has made his preference clear — BJP Legislature Party leader Raghuvar Das, who belongs to his caste. Some hold the view that the candidate should be a tribal to ensure that the JMM does not walk away with the BJP's tribal support base. Others argue that the choice should be a non-tribal to send the right political message to the large non-tribal constituency.
With various leaders taking divergent positions, the Parliamentary Board, which met with BJP president Nitin Gadkari in the chair, decided to send two observers, senior general secretary Ananth Kumar and the former president Rajnath Singh, to Ranchi on Tuesday to assess whom the legislature party wants as Chief Minister.
After the meeting, Mr. Kumar said they would assess the views of the MLAs individually and report back to Mr. Gadkari, who would then take a decision and make the announcement in Delhi.
Mr. Kumar said he was confident of a BJP-led government being put in place in Jharkhand “within a week.” He sidestepped questions on JMM leader Shibu Soren, who has repeatedly said he has no intention of stepping down as Chief Minister.
Mr. Kumar made the point that none of the coalition partners — the BJP, the JMM, the All India Jharkhand Students' Union and the Janata Dal (United) — wanted a situation in which the Congress government at the Centre would impose President's Rule. And the BJP has firmly told the JMM that it will be either a BJP-led government or withdrawal of support to the Soren government by the party, which will naturally lead to President's Rule.
The BJP also intends retaining the Speaker's post. It seems the BJP has worked a formula for ministerial berths with its allies: four, including Chief Minister for the BJP; four, including Deputy Chief Minister, for the JMM; three for the AJSU and one for the JD(U).