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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Jharkhand drama exposes deep divide in BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jharkhand is split down the middle, thanks to its flip-flop over its ties with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) that led to a divorce Monday.

india Updated: May 24, 2010 17:08 IST


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jharkhand is split down the middle, thanks to its flip-flop over its ties with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) that led to a divorce Monday.

Party insiders fear the BJP may be the ultimate loser in the political game that has ended on a messy note in the state.

First, after the 2009 assembly elections, the BJP, some say, made the mistake of joining hands with JMM chief Shibu Soren, who is known for hard bargaining and unpredictability.

The apprehension proved right when Shibu Soren, the 'Guruji' in Jharkhand politics, surprisingly voted against BJP-sponsored cut motion in the Lok Sabha April 27.

The next day, the BJP decided it had had enough -- it decided to pull down Shibu Soren, knowing its 18 legislators held the key to the state government.

Intense negotiations followed to see if the BJP could again go with the JMM, a prospect that angered sections of the party.

The BJP's image then witnessed a downslide after it decided to put on hold its decision to withdraw support to the JMM-led government.

"It was the biggest mistake. The BJP could have formed the government with the support of the JMM even after withdrawing support. Our image suffered a big blow due to the political crisis," a senior BJP leader said.

When Hemant Soren, Shibu Soren's son, wrote to BJP apologising for his father's voting against the party and invited it to form the government in Jharkhand, the BJP decided to do business with the young man.

But Hemant Soren has never been popular within his own party. As for the senior Soren, he never shared a table with BJP central leaders during the many rounds of talks that followed.

On May 8, Hemant Soren announced support to a BJP-led government. Two days later, the BJP decided to choose a new Chief Minister.

But the BJP was divided, with one faction supporting state BJP president and deputy Chief Minister Raghubar Das for the post and the second in favour of former Chief Minister Arjun Munda, a tribal.

Ten Munda supporters went to New Delhi to lobby for him. The central leaders warned them not to indulge in such acts.

When the BJP parliamentary board met in New Delhi May 10 to decide on a Chief Minister, Das convened a meeting to show his strength. The majority of party legislators and Lok Sabha MPs were missing from this meet.

In the Jharkhand BJP, the supporters of Munda and Das now do not see eye to eye.

"Some central party leaders indulged in childish acts to form the government in the state despite knowing that the JMM was divided over supporting the BJP. If the party wanted to keep the Congress from power, then it should have opted to continue with the Soren government in the same arrangement," another senior BJP leader said.

"Soren had also sent a letter apologising. Now the BJP's image is that of a party greedy to grab power in Jharkhand at any cost."

The BJP is suffering in Jharkhand due to factionalism and had paid the price in last year's assembly polls when the number of its legislators fell to 18 from 30.

The BJP and JMM have always had uneasy relations.

Before joining hands with Shibu Soren, the BJP never missed a chance to nail the earlier UPA government over including the tainted JMM chief in the cabinet.

In fact a large section of BJP leaders was against the formation of the government in alliance with the JMM.

BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy was one such man. Now, former party president Murli Manohar Joshi has termed the ongoing political drama as "a theatre of the absurd."

First Published: May 24, 2010 17:06 IST

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