Ranchi: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren was on Wednesday sworn in as Chief Minister of Jharkhand for the third time. The ceremony was skipped by top leaders of his coalition partner BJP.

The House is being convened on January 4. Mr. Soren will move a confidence motion on January 7 to demonstrate the strength of the five-party coalition in the 81-member House.

Ending almost a year-long spell of President’s rule in the State, 65-year-old Soren and two Ministers from coalition partners were sworn in by Governor K. Sankaranarayanan.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who had received Mr. Soren in Mumbai and sealed the deal for formation of the JMM-led coalition government, did not attend the swearing-in.

The BJP support to JMM had come under criticism from a section of the party. RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya also questioned the decision to support Mr. Soren who is facing a number of criminal cases.

Besides Mr. Soren, who heads a five-party coalition, BJP Jharkhand unit chief Raghubar Das and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) chief Sudesh Mahato were sworn in.

The Vigilance Bureau will be strengthened and made more effective to curb corruption, Cabinet Secretary Aditya Swaroop told reporters in the presence of the Chief Minister.

Asked how he would deal with alleged illegal mining in the backdrop of the Koda scam, Mr. Soren said everything would be examined.

About induction of more Ministers, a senior BJP leader said, “The Ministry can be expanded after Guruji [Soren] takes the floor test.”

Mr. Soren has secured the support of 44 MLAs — JMM 18, BJP 18, JDU 2, AJSU 5 and JJM 1— after the Assembly elections gave a fractured verdict. The Congress-JVMP combine got 22 seats.

Senior BJP MP from Jharkhand Yashwant Sinha, party’s national vice president Karuna Shukla, Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand besides Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi were present.

Mr. Soren had resigned in January this year after he failed to get himself elected to the Assembly in a by-poll.

His first term as Chief Minister was from March 2, 2005 which lasted just nine days as he failed to prove his majority in the Assembly.

In his second innings, he spent a little over four months from August 27, 2008. The JMM chief had staked claim to form the government on December 25.

Mr. Soren now heads the government with the help of the NDA for the first time.

He has been acquitted in the JMM bribery case and in the case of murder of his personal assistant Shashinath Jha. — PTI

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