Last week, when senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said Jharkhand had become a “theatre of the absurd” after Sibu Soren did a U-turn, he was thought to have used strong words to criticise his party leaders for landing in a mess. But, by Monday, when a BJP delegation went to Governor MOH Farooq to withdraw support, the criticism within the party over the drama of the last 27 days just got louder.
Though Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley defended his party’s approach, including its decision to finally pull the plug, as “unanimous”, many BJP leaders privately blamed Rajnath Singh and Ananth Kumar.
By Sunday, when it was clear that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief would not oblige his son, Hemant, in carrying out his pact with the BJP to transfer power, a top BJP leader asked a party functionary: “Why are we delaying from getting out of this mess?”
BJP insiders said Singh and Kumar were convinced that the party should not make it easy for the Congress to either impose President’s Rule or manage the state by proxy. Despite opposition from L.K. Advani, Joshi and Sushma Swaraj — who thought the JMM was not a reliable party — BJP chief Nitin Gadkari went along with Soren.
Why were some central BJP leaders keen on forming the government in mineral-rich state? The buzz was that these leaders and their family members were into big business, which would be affected in the absence of power. Another view was that the BJP cut off its nose to spite the face by withdrawing support after Soren’s vote in the first place.
Advani was upset that the party overruled his suggestion to project former Union minister Yashwant Sinha as chief minister to send out a message that the BJP was serious about governance. Sinha’s name was vetoed by the duo who backed ex-CM Arjun Munda, saying he alone “could manage and satisfy” the MLAs of both BJP and JMM, who later began to insist on rotation of the CM post.