Curtains on NDA Govt in J'khand
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Curtains on NDA Govt in J'khand

Chief Minister Munda resigns after his Govt is reduced to minority in the 82-member state assembly. Have your say

india Updated: Sep 14, 2006 18:56 IST

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda resigned on Thursday to avoid a defeat in the assembly, paving the way for a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government likely to be led by his former colleague Madhu Koda.

While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Munda submitted his resignation to Governor Syed Sibte Razi, ending the 18-month National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, a triumphant UPA met to choose the new chief minister.

The consensus candidate seems to be independent legislator Koda, who was mines and parliamentary affairs minister in Munda's government and the man who took the initiative in toppling it.

The UPA is waiting for a formal nod from Congress President Sonia Gandhi before an announcement, sources said.

Koda, a former BJP member who contested as an independent in the 2005 elections after the party refused him a ticket, has already started issuing press statements.

"The priority of my government will be to give fear free administration to people and on developing the state," he told reporters.

Indications are that he will be sworn in late Thursday or Friday morning.

Till all the nitty-gritty is sorted out, Munda will continue in the saddle with the governor asking him to remain chief minister till alternative arrangements are made.

"I hope the new government will come up to the expectations of the people and meet their aspirations. It's a number game and the numbers are right now with them (the UPA). We will play a constructive role as an opposition party," he said after submitting his resignation.

That the numbers were stacked against Munda became evident when the house met at 11 am, soon after Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari said he was reserving judgment on the disqualification petition against three legislators. The three would therefore have voting rights.

All the legislators of the NDA and UPA were in place when Munda began speaking in Hindi. The lines in the 82-member house were clearly divided between 43 MLAs of UPA and 38 of NDA (excluding the speaker).

Munda stood up and enumerated the achievements of his government, asserting that development had taken place in the state and his rule had achieved many milestones in education, health and other sectors.

He then candidly admitted: "It is true we don't have the numbers to continue in government. I am going to resign after meeting the governor."

The announcement led to jubilation in the opposition benches, with members standing up and showing the victory signs, while despondency was evident in the NDA as its legislators watched on silently.

The scales tipped against the government on Sept 5 when Koda and three other independents - ministers Kamlesh Singh, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai - withdrew support, reducing Munda to a minority.

And the speaker's decision on Thursday morning that he was reserving judgment on the disqualification petition against Stephen Marandi, Enos Ekka and Kamlesh Singh was the final straw.

Unless they are disqualified, they were legislators and had a right to vote, he said, adding that judgment would be pending until the next order.

The NDA took power in March last year with the support of the independent legislators when a short-lived government of Shibu Soren could not prove its majority on the floor of the house.

After the fractured verdict of the assembly elections, Soren had been invited to form government.

First Published: Sep 14, 2006 00:00 IST