It looked like it was straight from the biblical Last Supper. But this was after the deed was done.
An unflustered Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren had a quiet meal with BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday night after voting for the UPA against the Opposition’s cut motions in Lok Sabha.
That was until Gadkari got a call from a top party leader saying Soren had voted against the NDA when it was propping up his government in the state, BJP sources said.
In the middle of their meal, Gadkari could not help but ask his ‘esteemed’ guest whether he had indeed not voted for the Opposition. To which Soren replied, “I might have made a mistake. But that does not affect our arrangement in Jharkhand.”
Soren’s dinner appointment was unknown to BJP leaders who were in the Lok Sabha. An upset Sushma Swaraj called up an aide of Soren to know why he had voted against the NDA. The aide said Soren suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had voted for the UPA by “mistake.”
She refused to buy that argument even as other BJP leaders who were angry with Soren’s behaviour concluded that the party had little option but to withdraw support.
When the BJP was mustering its numbers last week, Swaraj had sounded out senior party leader L.K. Advani on whether Soren should be asked to come for the vote. Advani had disapproved, pointing to the BJP’s opposition to Giridhar Gamang, former Orissa CM, coming to vote for a no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee government in 1999. Gamang was still a MP though he had become Chief Minister.
But when Soren turned up in Parliament a day ahead of the vote on cut motions, many BJP leaders had no clue why he had come. All they knew was Soren is the MP from Dumka.