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BJP divided over Jharkhand CM

delhi Updated: May 13, 2010 01:09 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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Arjun Munda has emerged as frontrunner to head the BJP government in Jharkhand, with the support of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Senior BJP leaders, however, are not sure whether he is the best choice.

Though Rajnath Singh and Ananth Kumar, who went to state capital Ranchi to gauge the mood of party MLAs, have backed Munda’s claim of having the support of a majority of MLAs, BJP stalwart L.K. Advani doesn’t seem to be impressed by him.

Advani favours the baton being handed over to Yashwant Sinha, who, he believes, will bring a “qualitative difference” to the issue of governance in Jharkhand, thanks to his experience as Union minister for finance and external affairs.

Advani’s support for Sinha is a surprise because the latter had criticised him following the Lok Sabha elections. But Advani has told seniors that, while a BJP-JMM coalition may not be a long-term affair, the party should try to provide “better governance” under an “able” chief minister.

Party president Nitin Gadkari, too, believes that the party should not rush into a decision without looking into the issue of governance.

The argument advanced in favour of Sinha is that he will be able to bring dignity to the chief minister’s office, which hitherto had been missing in Jharkhand under four CMs. Second, Munda’s track-record in his earlier stints as chief minister, was uninspiring in terms of probity or clean government, BJP leaders say.

There is also view that, with Sinha as CM, the BJP should be able to get an opportunity to woo the non-tribals, who constitute 68 per cent of total population in the state.

As for Munda, besides Rajnath Singh and Ananth Kumar, he has the backing of local business groups. His supporters also argue that a non-tribal CM won’t go down well with the JMM. But his critics cite the presence JMM’s Hemant Soren, a tribal, likely to be deputy CM, to negate such impression.