The suspense over who will be the next chief minister of Jharkand remained on Monday with the BJP's top leadership unable to decide on its nominee to head a new coalition government with alliance partners JMM and AJSU.
Internal differences in BJP on the choice of candidate forced its Parliamentary Board at its meeting in New Delhi on Monday to appoint two senior leaders as Central Observers for hammering out a consensus so that a government is formed "within a week".
The observers--Rajnath Singh and Ananth Kumar-- will discuss the issue on Tuesday with its 18 MLAs, as the debate in the party revolved over whether the new CM should be a tribal or a non-tribal. JMM is keen on a a tribal CM.
BJP general secretary Anant Kumar had on Saturday said the party will decide the chief ministerial candidate at today's parliamentary board meeting.
Modalities for government formation and sharing of cabinet berths in Jharkhand were finalised with JMM on Saturday leaving two BJP leaders--Arjun Munda and Raghubar Das--in the race for the CM post to succeed JMM supremo Shibu Soren.
Munda has been claiming support of nine tribal BJP MLAs and a few others while those backing Das argue that since JMM leader Hemant Soren is likely to be deputy chief minister, a non-tribal should become CM. They also claim that if Munda, a tribal becomes CM, a Lok Sabha seat would fall vacant. BJP has 18 MLAs in Jharkhand.
"The BJP Parliamentary Board has appointed Rajnath Singh and me as Central Observers. We will meet BJP MLAs in Ranchi tomorrow to discuss the issue. Then we will apprise party president Gadkari of their views. An announcement will be made after that," Ananth Kumar said.
He expressed confidence that a BJP-led government will be formed in Jharkhand "within a week".
MLAs supporting Munda are already in the capital since Sunday and met Singh among other central leaders to lobby for him.
Party sources said the candidature of former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha has still not been ruled out and in case there is no consensus, he can emerge as the compromise candidate because of his stature.
Reflecting his desire to get the top post, Raghubar Das said the CM issue shold not revolve around "tribal or non-tribal" tag but should relate to stability. Das is a non-tribal.
In the 82-member Jharkhand Assembly, the new coalition will have 45 members. JMM and BJP have 18 members each, AJSU five and JD-U two. Two Independents are also in this grouping.
Meanwhile, under the deal reached on Saturday JMM will get one more ministerial berth (five in all) and the post of Deputy Speaker. BJP will get the chief minister's post and three other ministries, plus the Speaker's post.