The Congress leadership is no longer as opposed to forming a government in Jharkhand with the help of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, single-member parties and Independents as it was when President’s Rule was imposed on the State earlier this year, senior party sources told The Hindu on a day Congress MLAs were in the national capital.

In any case, Shakeel Ahmed, party functionary in charge of Jharkhand, without spelling out details, said a decision to either form a government or pave the way for fresh elections — as President’s Rule ends in July — would be taken within a week.

The MLAs, who on Thursday met Mr. Ahmed and senior leader Oscar Fernandes, have sought meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi for Friday.

The softening in the Congress stance, party sources said, was the result of a fresh assessment of the ground situation in the State. “There is a sense that even if the Assembly elections are held soon, the results will be almost identical to those last time, with no party securing a majority,” a senior Congress leader said, adding, “The re-thinking is also a result of electoral calculations ahead of next year’s general calculations: if we don’t tie-up with the JMM now, it will be difficult to forge an alliance at that time. The two considerations are co-related.”

Clearly, with the Congress graph down, every seat won in the next general elections will count in 2014.

Ever since the BJP-JMM government collapsed and President’s Rule was imposed, the Congress’ 13 MLAs have been trying hard to persuade the central leaders to let them explore the possibility of forming a government with the 18 MLAs of the JMM.

Jharkhand was brought under President’s Rule in January this year after BJP Chief Minister Arjun Munda resigned, his government having been reduced to a minority following withdrawal of JMM support. In the 81-member Assembly, the BJP and the JMM have 18 members each — in addition, the Munda government had the backing of six MLAs of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, two of the JD(U), two Independents and one nominated member, who has voting rights in a trial of strength.

The others, apart from the 13 MLA-strong Congress, are the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P) that has 11 MLAs, and the RJD with five members in the Assembly. The CPI-ML(L), the Marxist Coordination Party, the Jharkhand Party (Ekka), the Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch and the Jai Bharat Samta Party have one member each, besides an Independent.