Claims pre-poll power-sharing arrangement has not been honoured

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Monday withdrew support to the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)-led coalition government reducing it to a minority in the Assembly. The JMM blamed the BJP’s refusal to honour their ‘pre-poll power-sharing’ agreement for its decision.

The JMM’s announcement came after weeks of uncertainty and speculation since Chief Minister Arjun Munda had refused to recognise the JMM’s claims that the two parties had an agreement to hold the Chief Minister’s office for 28 months each. The Munda-led BJP government’s 28-month tenure ends on January 10.

Speaking to the media here on Monday, JMM leader and Deputy Chief Minister Hemant Soren, son of the former Chief Minister Shibu Soren, outlined two reasons for withdrawing support from Munda’s government.

“The BJP has refused to consider our demand for change of leadership in the State. Also, we had demanded that Godda MP Nishikant Dubey give an unconditional apology for his derogatory remarks against Shibu Soren but this was not done,” he said.

“We have decided to withdraw support. Guruji [Shibu Soren] will take a decision on going to the Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor formally about our decision,” said Mr. Soren, declining to confirm when the party leaders would formally meet the Governor.

List of demands

Mr. Soren had submitted a list of demands, including a question about the BJP’s stand on the power-sharing agreement, to Mr. Munda on December 25. JMM MLAs and MPs had met for over eight hours on January 6 at Shibu Soren’s residence before announcing this decision. On Monday, Mr. Munda again met the former CM before the JMM’s withdrawal of support.

During the last few days, the BJP had downplayed the JMM’s threat of withdrawing support. Mr. Munda had on January 3 said he had refuted the JMM’s claim of a power-sharing agreement in a letter to the JMM’s leaders and would continue to hold the CM’s office to maintain political stability in the State.

“We had tried to assure our allies of all cooperation. The party’s core committee will decide our next course of action,” said Dineshchand Goswami, BJP’s party head in Jharkhand.

Both the JMM and the BJP have 18 seats each in the 81-member Assembly. The JMM has five ministers in the BJP-led Cabinet. Besides the JMM, the BJP is supported by six All Jharkhand Students Union MLAs and two Janta Dal-United MLAs. The Congress has 13 seats in the Assembly while the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha has 11 seats. Since Jharkhand was formed in 2000, President’s Rule has been imposed twice and there have been changes in the CM’s office eight times.