The crisis in the Arjun Munda-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Jharkhand deepened on Tuesday morning with a minister from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) announcing his resignation.
Irrigation Minister Kamlesh Singh announced his resignation because of alleged ill treatment by the state police. He was detained by police on Monday night as he was on way to Kolkata, apparently to join three other rebel state ministers who are camping in Gurgaon, Haryana.
He was detained after reports that he could be switching loyalties to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Protesting the police behaviour, Singh said: "The treatment meted out to me on the directive of the chief minister itself tells the story of the plight of the state. We supported the NDA government for the development of the state. But we are humiliated by the chief minister."
"When the chief minister has no faith in us then why should we remain minister. We now find it difficult to work under the leadership of Munda."
Asked whether he would join the UPA he said: "All option are open. We can support any government that will ensure development."
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which spearheads the NDA government in Jharkhand, swung into action by engaging Human Resource Development Minister Pradeep Yadav to pacify Singh.
The minister was reportedly going to join the three rebel ministers - Madhu Koda, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai. The trio are camping in Gurgaon and they are likely to put in their papers Tuesday to topple the BJP government.
When the news came in that the minister was going to join the rebel ministers, the state police swung into action.
The state police first tried to search for the minister in trains bound for Kolkata. Then the roadways were blocked and the minister was finally caught at midnight near Chandil at Jamshedpur. The minister was stopped and taken to a guesthouse located in the same district.
He pleaded with the police that he was he was going to pacify the rebel ministers, but the cops said they had been directed to take him to a guesthouse.
Reacting to the police action, Singh said: "They behaved with me as if I am a criminal. They (police) told me that I would not be allowed to go Kolkata."
"I will complain about the behaviour of police to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil," he fumed.
Arjun Munda government enjoys wafer-thin majority in the 82-member house. It enjoys the support of 43 legislators, including the speaker. If the three rebel ministers withdraw support to the government, the Munda government will be reduced to a minority.
The Jharkhand UPA legislators are camping in Gurgaon along with the three rebel ministers. Madhu Koda, one of the rebel ministers, has been reportedly offered the post of chief minister by the Congress.