Thursday, May 16, 2013

Congress in talks to prop up a government in Jharkhand

17 May, 2013,NEW DELHI:--

Jharkhand may have a new government soon. Four months after imposition of President\'s rule, following the collapse of the BJP-JMM government, the Congress high command is exploring the possibility of propping up an alternative government along with \'like-minded\' parties.

The Congress leadership has asked its 13 MLAs to reach Delhi for consultations even as AICC managers are learnt to have completed a few rounds of talks with leaders of potential allies - JMM (18 MLAs), RJD (5), AJSU (5) and Independent (6). Congress had adopted a \'hands off\' strategy after the 81-member state assembly was placed under suspended animation. This may have been meant to make JMM realistic in its bargaining. The Centre has to decide whether to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh polls by July 18.

With the deadline approaching, JMM deputy leader Hemant Soren recently met senior Congress leaders in Delhi, promising his party\'s \"commitment to form a stable alliance\" with Congress and other anti-BJP parties. Soren Jr, has also promised to have an open mind on all coalition issues, including who should lead the government.

With Lalu Prasad\'s RJD already eager to tag along, AICC deputed its leader in charge of Jharkhand, Shakheel Ahmed, to hold talks with Shibu Soren, Hemant, Lalu Prasad, leaders of AJSU and Independent MLAs in the past couple of weeks. Erstwhile UPA ally, JVM(P) led by Babulal Marandi (11 MLAs), is not part of the exercise. Congress\' main rival, BJP, has 18 MLAs in the state assembly.

Shakheel Ahmed told ET: \"Our party MLAs from Jharkhand are in Delhi for consultations. If they want a government, the party high command will decide on the course of action. Some parties are in touch with us\". Incidentally, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde visited Jharkhand, a couple of days back, for taking stock.

The Congress leadership seems to be counting on extending the Congress-JMM-RJD-AJSU alliance for the next Lok Sabha polls. In 2009, Congress could win just one of the 14 LS seats from Jharkhand. The party, expecting a meltdown in its LS tally in AP and Tamil Nadu, hopes to make up in Karnataka and Jharkhand.

Congress\' decision to fish in the murky waters of Jharkhand politics - often rocked by sleazy deal-makings and political instability - shows that it calculates despite the \'national discourse\' on corruption, it will be alliances and social combinations that would matter during polls.

A similar thinking in BJP saw a section pushing for the return of Yeddyyurappa and Bellary brothers to the party, ahead of Karnataka polls, till LK Advani vetoed it for internal political reasons.
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