Political uncertainty deepened in Jharkhand on Tuesday, with Chief Minister Arjun Munda submitting his resignation to Governor Syed Ahmed. On Monday, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) announced the withdrawal of its support to the BJP-led government.
Mr. Munda recommended that the Governor dissolve the Assembly to facilitate fresh elections. “I have run the government with stability for the last two years. Dissolution of the House and seeking a fresh mandate are the alternative at present,” he told journalists before meeting the Governor at 11.45 a.m.
He has been asked by the Governor to continue as caretaker chief minister.
Mr. Munda said the decision was taken as no national party came forward to provide an alternative government after the JMM decided to pull out of the government, which was formed in September 2010.
Gopal Krishna Patar of the Janata Dal (United), Chandraprakash Choudhary of the All-Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) and several BJP MLAs accompanied Mr. Munda to the Raj Bhavan.
“The Cabinet met at 9 a.m. Out of the 12 Ministers, seven were present. It was decided to dissolve the House and we sought an appointment with the Governor at the earliest. We do not want a situation in which a government, formed through jod-tod [horse-trading] involving MLAs indicted for corruption, comes to power,” BJP State president Dineshchand Goswami said.
He dismissed the JMM’s contention that the government was reduced to minority once the party withdrew support and the Cabinet’s recommendation for dissolution of the Assembly did not stand.
“Five Ministers belonging to the JMM were not present at the Cabinet meeting, but they had not submitted their resignation. The Governor must go by the Cabinet decision,” he said. JMM leaders met the Governor an hour before Mr. Munda reached the Raj Bhavan.
Both the JMM and the BJP have 18 seats each in the 81-member Assembly. The Congress has 13 seats, while the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) has 11. The JMM is expected to approach the Congress to stitch together an alliance, taking in five MLAs of the RJD and seven Independents.
On Tuesday, Congress leaders reiterated their willingness to open talks with the JMM. “We are open to discussing this with the JMM. We will consider any formal proposal that JMM leaders make,” Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradeep Balmuchu said in the afternoon, on his return from Delhi.
“The party has not yet taken a decision on this. Nor have we approached the Congress to negotiate an agreement yet,” JMM core committee member Binod Pandey said.
JVM(P) leader Babulal Marandi favoured fresh elections. “The Congress and the BJP are both ruining Jharkhand. We will not ally ourselves with either. We are not in favour of transactions-based governments. Let people decide through fresh elections,” said the former Chief Minister.