Talks between the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on government formation in Jharkhand made little headway on Tuesday as some key issues remained unresolved.
A cautious Congress is exploring all options before making its next move. It maintained that its next move would largely depend on governor Syed Ahmed's decision on outgoing BJP chief minister Arjun Munda's recommendation seeking dissolution of the assembly.
"We will make up our mind only after the governor's decision," said Shakeel Ahmed, the Congress party's in-charge of Jharkhand affairs. "It is not binding on the governor to accept the recommendation of a minority government," he added.
Congress sources said the party has serious reservations over JMM chief Sibu Soren leading the coalition but could consider his son Hemant Soren for the CM's post, provided the alliance continues till the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.
But if the Congress doesn't get this assurance from a "slippery customer" like the JMM, it would prefer that the assembly be kept in suspended animation or be placed briefly under President's Rule. "This will give us breathing space to cobble up a long-lasting combination," a senior Congress leader said.
Till now, divergent views have emerged within the party on the issue of leading the government. While the majority of leaders were of the view that the Congress should lead the coalition and be at the forefront, some in the state unit have shown a willingness to play second fiddle to the JMM.
The caution stems from the fact that the Congress had suffered in the past by supporting the Madhu Koda-led government and had to bear the public ire for irregularities committed by that regime.
"It is high time we give stability to the state with the uncompromising agenda of development," former minister Subodh Kant Sahai told HT.