Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren on Thursday lost an assembly by-election that he needed to win to remain in power, prompting the state's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to demand his resignation and fresh assembly polls.
Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) lost the Tamar constituency by-election by 9,062 votes to Raja Peter of the Jharkhand Party - a constituent of the ruling coalition that had rebelled against the veteran politician.
When he became chief minister Aug 27 last year, Soren was not a member of the legislative assembly and needed to be elected within six months.
"I accept the verdict of the people of Tamar. I will take any decision after meeting UPA (United Progressive Alliance) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) chief Lalu Prasad," Soren, 64, said.
Soren, popularly known as Guruji among supporters, will have little option but to quit as chief minister - fourth time he would be quitting as chief minister or central minister. He had to quit the central cabinet twice due to criminal cases against him.
Peter, who secured 34,186 votes, said: "It is victory of the people of Tamar. I have worked here for the last 10 years and my people have recognised my work."
The BJP demanded Soren's resignation and president's rule in the state.
"The only option left is imposing president's rule. Then elections should be conducted to seek people's mandate. People of Jharkhand now do not want an experiment," said Arjun Munda, former chief minister and BJP leader.
BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said in New Delhi: "Not only Soren but (his allies) the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are also defeated."
The state has seen a long period of political instability and now there should be fresh elections, he said.
The assembly term expires in March next year.
According to sources in the state's ruling UPA, central alliance leaders had asked Soren and former chief minister Madhu Koda to come to New Delhi to discuss the political scenario.
The central alliance leadership is likely to ask Soren to step down and ensure formation of a new UPA government in the state, they said.
Jharkhand Party president and former rural development minister Enos Ekka had fielded Peter going against the wishes of the state UPA leaders, who had decided to field Soren as their candidate.
Soren threatened to sack Ekka if he did not withdraw his party's candidate but the latter stood his ground.
Soren sacked Ekka and Harinarayan Rai, citing a corruption case filed against them by the vigilance department.
"it is a defeat of the government. Shibu Soren has been made a scapegoat. Soren is like my father and I repsect him. Some people in the government played foul that led to his defeat," Ekka said.
"Our party will form the next government," he added.
The polling took place Jan 5 amid tight security.
The seat fell vacant after former minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Ramesh Singh Munda was killed by Maoists last July.
The UPA has 42 legislators in the 82-member house.