Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leaders reiterated their willingness to form government in the state in alliance with Congress at the two-day core committee meeting that concluded in Bokaro on Wednesday. JMM leader and Deputy Chief Minister in the previous Arjun Munda government Hemant Soren said the ball was in Congress’ court. “If Congress takes initiative, JMM supports the formation of government in Jharkhand. If not, we demand the dissolution of assembly and holding fresh elections,” he said.

The annual meet was attended by more than 200 of 375 members, including party leaders Shibu Soren, Hemant Soren, Shibu Soren’s youngest son Basant Soren who heads the party’s Youth Wing, and 11 of JMM’s 18 MLAs.

“The previous government did not last its entire term because of BJP leaders especially the role played by leaders such as Arjum Munda, Nishikant Dubey, Yashwant Sinha. We have made an offer and now it is up to Congress to respond,” said Bishnu Prasad Bhaiya JMM MLA who was one of the first to arrive at the meeting. The Jamtara MLA is one of eight MLAs the Central Bureau of Investigation last week sought sanction to prosecute in the March 2012 cash for votes scam, a development that may have repercussions on any discussions in the Congress to consider an alliance with JMM and Rashtriya Janta Dal in the state.

“The meeting focused at strengthening the party’s internal organization. If Congress responds to our offer of forming the government the party may consider an alliance with the party for the next Assembly election,” said Dumri-Giridih MLA Jagannath Mahto.

Since JMM withdrew support to the BJP-led government this January, the party has made several attempts to get Congress’ state and central leadership cooperation to form government in Jharkhand. Hemant Soren was in Delhi till Tuesday and was reported to have met Congress leaders including senior leader Oscar Fernandes. But Congress’ central leadership is seen as reluctant to enter into an alliance with JMM despite state Congress leaders’ willingness. The state has been under President’s Rule since January.

Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee leaders who are in Delhi this week said they were still not in a position to disclose if the central leadership would form government in the state. “We expect a decision to be taken by 24 May in this regard,” said Congress legislative party leader Rajendra Singh.

The meet began with homage to Durga Soren, JMM leader’s Shibu Soren eldest son who died of an illness in 2009. It concluded with a resolution which besides expressing the party’s preparedness for the next Assembly elections, advocated for recognition of those who contributed to the struggle for creation of Jharkhand state, and an announcement that the party will contest the next panchayat elections in West Bengal. Party leaders criticized centre’s willingness to give ‘special status’ to Bihar as an underdeveloped state but refusing Jharkhand’s plea to be considered for the same.