The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is set to head a coalition government in Jharkhand in alliance with the Congress as two parties inched closer to signing a deal before the expiry of the six months of the President’s rule on July 18.
The Congress rushed its general secretaries BK Hariprasad and Shakeel Ahmed to Ranchi in a bid to explore the option of forming a government with the JMM. “It’s a work in progress. We have made a significant headway as far as government formation is concerned,” a senior leader said.
The talks between the two parties had broken down last time over the chief minister’s post. Initially, the Congress wanted to lead the coalition, conveying to the JMM leadership that it had the support of independents and smaller parties.
But, JMM leaders rejected the proposal, arguing that since they had brought down the BJP government and had more legislators than the Congress, the chief minister’s post should go to their party.
The Congress also had serious reservations over JMM chief Sibu Soren leading the government but showed willingness to consider his son Hemant Soren for the CM’s post, provided the alliance continues till the next Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
Congress sources said all contentious issues have been resolved and the possibility of a coalition government headed by Hemant Soren appears bright.
In the 81-member house, the JMM has 18 legislators and the Congress 13. The two parties are banking on the support of five RJD MLAs and seven independents, who supported Congress leader Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu get elected to the Rajya Sabha last year, taking the tally well beyond the magic figure of 41.
The BJP-led Arjun Munda government fell after the JMM withdrew support to it on January 8, about 28 months after it was formed on September 11, 2010.
Ever since being carved out of Bihar as a separate state in 2000, Jharkhand has so far seen eight governments and has now been thrice under President’s rule. Significantly, the Congress has never ruled the state. It supported the Madhu Koda government in 2006.