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BJP to review decision on Jharkhand coalition

india Updated: Apr 30, 2010 02:04 IST
HT Correspondent

A day after the BJP decided to withdraw support to the Shibu Soren government in Jharkhand in reaction to Soren's "betrayal" during the vote on the cut motions in Parliament, there were strong indications that the saffron party had begun a rethink.

This was in response to two letters from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Thursday to the party's top leadership, urging a review of the BJP's decision.

In the first letter from Shibu Soren to Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani, Soren pleaded illness, apologised for voting in favour of the UPA and pledged allegiance to the NDA.

The second letter, written by Soren's son Hemant, promised JMM support for a BJP-led government in Jharkhand. A BJP leader said the JMM's only request was that a tribal be made chief minister, in deference to the sentiments of the people.

The BJP promptly put the decision to withdraw support in abeyance.

"BJP president Nitin Gadkari will talk to members of the Parliamentary Board and take a decision on Hemant Soren's proposal," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. Consequently, the BJP MLAs' appointment with the Jharkhand governor was cancelled twice.

The BJP had already come under pressure from a section of top leaders at the core group meeting on Thursday morning - apart from pressure from the party's Jharkhand leaders - not to withdraw support to the Soren government.

Party sources said that while LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj were not impressed by Soren's apology, Rajnath Singh was in favour of continuing the coalition experiment with the JMM.

Gadkari will now take the final call. If the BJP does form a government there, Arjun Munda - a tribal - Yashwant Sinha and Raghubar Das are the names doing the rounds for Chief Ministership.

But opinion is divided in the JMM too. By the time Hemant Soren pledged support to the BJP, five JMM MLAs led by Simon Marandi reportedly broke with Hemant Soren's line of supporting a BJP government.

In the 82-member Jharkhand Assembly the BJP and JMM have 18 seats each, the Congress 14, JVM 11, RJD 5, ASJU 5, JD(U) 2, CPI(ML) 1 and others and Independents - seven. One member (JP Gaulsteen) is nominated from the Anglo-Indian quota.