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UPA's Koda to be Jharkhand CM

A consensus candidate of the UPA, Madhu Koda will be sworn in as the new chief minister on September 17. Express your views

india Updated: Sep 15, 2006 15:53 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

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 headed by his former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) colleague Madhu Koda.

Independent legislator Koda, who has thrown his lot with the UPA, will take oath on September 17.

While 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 was independent legislator Koda, who was mines and parliamentary affairs minister in Munda's government and the man who took the initiative in toppling it.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi gave her nod to the decision from New Delhi.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said at a press conference, "The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) proposed his name and all parties agreed to it."

Shibu Soren, who was appointed briefly as chief minister but was replaced by Munda when he could not muster the numbers last March after the fractured assembly election verdict, would be chairperson of the Jharkhand UPA.

The UPA submitted support letters from 41 legislators to the Governor. Two MLAs from the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) and the Forward Bloc would give their letter only after their respective politburos have cleared it.

Koda, who contested as an independent in the 2005 elections after BJP refused him a ticket, told reporters, "The priority of my government will be to give fear free administration to people and on developing the state."

Munda will continue in the saddle till September 17 on the request of the Governor.

"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 scales tipped against the government on September 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

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