With all its senior leaders in Jharkhand biting the dust in the Assembly elections, the Congress is faced with the embarrassing situation of having no chief ministerial candidate among its victorious legislators in the eventuality of the party cobbling up the required numbers in a hung Assembly.

All its senior leaders including Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, Speaker Alamgir Alam, Stephen Marandi and Furkan Ansari have lost.

Stability is priority

For the record, the Congress on Wednesday maintained that its priority was to ensure that a secular and stable government is formed in Jharkhand. As to whether the Congress would prefer to form a government or prop up a combination of parties, spokesman Manish Tiwari said the situation was fluid and it would be too premature to say anything at this juncture.

Congress in-charge of Jharkhand K. Keshava Rao said the party was considering all options. “We want to see a stable government in Jharkhand. Instability has so far been the hallmark of Jharkhand. We would want to ensure stability either by a Congress government or by a Congress-supported government.”

Mr. Rao also refused to reveal the party’s cards even as the senior leadership discussed the results; particularly the unexpectedly good performance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Though the Congress had stitched up an alliance with the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, party leaders have been in touch with the JMM and the Rashtriya Janata Dal - two parties with whom it had parted ways with for the Assembly elections - over the past couple of days.

While the JMM holds the cards now, the Congress is wary of giving in to Shibu Soren’s demand that he be made Chief Minister given his track record. Instead, the Congress is trying to get him to agree to his son Hemant Soren becoming the Deputy Chief Minister. However, both father and son apparently want the Chief Minister’s chair. Also, there is the issue of the JMM and the JVM being on the same ship.

With the Congress-led pre-poll alliance netting 23 seats, this combination is eyeing the 13 ‘others’ who have made it, while pinning its hopes on the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s five coming its way due to political compulsions. However, the ‘others’ include “tainted” people like Enos Ekka and Hari Narayan besides the former Chief Minister Madhu Koda’s wife Geeta Koda.

Taking them on board or tying up with Mr. Soren goes against the party’s slogan of offering a clean and untested alternative to the people of Jharkhand which has seen political instability from its very inception 10 years ago.

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