Encouraged by the go-ahead from party president Sonia Gandhi, Jharkhand Congress leaders have decided to explore the possibility of forming an alternative government in the state.
The green signal came from Gandhi after her meeting with a team of Jharkhand leaders, including state Congress chief Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Rajendra Prasad Singh. Party in-charge of Jharkhand K. Keshava Rao, Congress president’s political secretary Ahmad Patel and leader Oscar Fernandes were also present in the hour-long meeting.
With this, the possibility of the Congress with 14 legislators forming a broader alliance with Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), which has 11 members in the house of 82, has increased. The two parties could seek support from JMM (18), Rashtriya Janata Dal (5) besides three independents, including Bandhu Tirkey, to take their tally to 53, a comfortable majority to form the government.
Sources said Gandhi has asked the leaders to “tread carefully” and “not act in haste” while cobbling up the numbers for forming the next government. The party, she is understood to said, should not face any embarrassment later.
The other option being explored by Congress is that the party extends support to Soren and as quid pro quo ask the JMM to reciprocate by getting its member elected to the Rajya Sabha. Two members from Jharkhand are retiring from the upper house on July 17 and the elections for these seats are going to be held on June 17.
At the meeting, the Congress leaders stressed on the need for the party’s proactive role in preventing the state from President’s rule or a mid-term poll. They argued the BJP had hatched up a plot to push the state towards Presidents’ rule by withdrawing support to the Sibu Soren-led government after their “design to grab power” from JMM failed.
Singh told HT later Gandhi was peeved at the political crisis due to BJP’s “hunger for power” in Jharkhand. “We have apprised her about the state of affairs in our bid to form an alternative government of secular forces,” he said.