Special Correspondent

BJP will get 4 ministerial berths

Though it is in celebratory mood, party has lost ground

NEW DELHI: The four coalition partners in Jharkhand will try to work out a common agenda for governance, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha said here on Monday.

Apart from the post of Chief Minister — it will go Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren — the JMM will get four berths. The BJP will get four ministerial berths including a Deputy Chief Minister, the All-Jharkhand Students’ Union will get two and the Janata Dal (United) one.

While Raghubar Das, a former State BJP president, is billed to be Deputy Chief Minister along with Sudesh Mahto of the AJSU, the BJP has also clinched the Speaker’s post. The name of C.P. Singh is being mentioned for this crucial job.

Peter Raja is being tipped for minister from the JD(U).

Although the BJP is in a celebratory mood, clearly the BJP has lost ground in Jharkhand and is far from the majority mark of 41 in a House of 81.

At the Parliamentary Board meeting held a few days ago after the Assembly election results were out, there was some finger-pointing by senior leader Arun Jaitley, apparently gunning for the immediate past president Rajnath Singh (without mentioning his name).

Mr. Jaitley is believed to have blamed wrong ticket distribution for the party’s poor performance — its tally is down from 30 seats last time to 18. Both Mr. Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj were apparently not in favour of joining efforts to form a government, a view opposed by Mr. Singh and some others.

Finally, the view that prevailed was that since no party or pre-poll alliance got a clear mandate, it was incumbent upon parties to form a government to prevent the State from coming under President’s Rule once again. Mr. Sinha said, “Under the circumstances, Jharkhand will be getting the best possible government.”

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav also said: “No party had a mandate. It was clear a coalition government had to be formed with post-poll partners. The National Democratic Alliance of the BJP and the JD(U) was able to stitch up such a coalition. We hope to give Jharkhand a good government unlike the people’s experience under the now disgraced Koda government.”

Some BJP leaders made no secret of their fear that had the party opted to remain in the Opposition, the Congress would have tried to wean away its legislators by making them resign and getting them elected again — adopting a strategy like the BJP’s Operation Lotus in Karnataka.

Mr. Soren flew from Mumbai to New Delhi on Monday night to invite Mr. Sharad Yadav to the oath-taking ceremony, scheduled for December 30 in Ranchi. Mr. Soren told journalists that it would be a challenge to meet the aspirations of the people of the State for which he had struggled for decades. He would like to “change the map of Jharkhand.”