The BJP and Left's cut motion on Tuesday has proved to be a double blessing for the Congress. The ruling party not only managed to bust Opposition unity but also stood to gain a government in Jharkhand, after Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren broke rank with the NDA to back the UPA government during the vote on the cut motions.
On Wednesday morning, the NDA riposted in kind by withdrawing support to his Jharkhand government, reducing it to a minority. With this upheaval the fate of Jharkhand is now in the Congress's hands.
Will it be a Congressman leading the next government or will the Congress install its ally, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha leader Babulal Marandi as chief minister? Will Soren, who resisted this very move after the assembly polls in December 2009, agree this time? And what happens to Soren who needs to become a member of the Jharkhand assembly in the next two months, if he expects to continue as chief minister? Though the assembly poll was in December, chief minister Soren still remains an MP as he is unable to persuade any JMM MLA holding a safe seat, to vacate it for him?
What happens to his son, Hemant who was keen to replace his father as CM?
The Congress, holding most of the cards now, will not act in haste. Party leaders spoke of the possibility of a short spell of President's Rule in the state with the assembly kept in suspended animation.
"We have to assess how the people of the state, specially the tribals, react to the new situation," said a Congress leader who did not want to be named.
The Congress, which has 14 legislators in the 82 member assembly, will have to consult the other two parties which will form the alternative: Soren's 18 member JMM and Babulal Marandi's 11 member JVM.
Among the possibilities being considered is installing Soren as head of a commission or committee with a ministerial rank at the Centre, as the Prime Minister may not want him in the Cabinet where all portfolios have been taken. His son could be accommodated as deputy chief minister.
Aware that Soren might resist his becoming chief minister, Marandi has also started resorting to pressure tactics. On Wednesday, he called for mid-term polls in the state.
Said a Congress leader: "Soren's time was running out in the state with no one in his party, including his family members, willing to vacate a seat for him to contest and enter the assembly. The JMM chief perhaps chose to convert this adversity into an opportunity by backing the UPA in the Lok Sabha in the hope of getting something in return."
(With inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi)