Munda govt on tenterhooks

The resounding victory of Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential poll could have unusual fallout in the state of Jharkhand. Badly bruised by cross-voting and deserting allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contemplating moves to avoid any further embarrassment. Karnataka episode was like adding salt to wound after its major partners like JD(U), Shiv Sena, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) had earlier decided to go with Pranab Mukherjee,

There is an increasing feeling in the leadership that the party was inviting unnecessary anti-incumbency running a ramshackle government headed by Arjun Munda with the support of JMM and AJSU.

The BJP parliamentary board had earlier in April 2010 withdrawn support to the JMM government led by Shibu Soren, after the tribal leader, who had till then not resigned his parliamentary seat, voted against the party-sponsored cut motion against the UPA government. It’s likely to break the ties again with the JMM if the tribal leader repeats the feat and votes for UPA candidate Hamid Ansari.

With its senior leader Jaswant Singh in the fray for the Vice President’s seat, BJP leadership realises that it cannot allow itself to have another knockout. After JD (U) and Shiv Sena assured support to Singh, the challenge before the leadership is to get all its MPs from Karnataka to fall in line and also have the ally MPs from Jharkhand to vote for its candidate.

Sources in BJP said the party leadership was particularly in mood to crack whip in Jharkhand after it managed to get just 20 out of the 80 MLAs to vote for Sangama.

In 2007 presidential polls, BJP’s candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had managed to get the votes of MLAs aligned to Babulal Marandi, though the later had by then broken ranks with BJP. Jharkhand chief minister Munda in 2012 not only failed to repeat the feat he also failed to clobber the support of the allies, much to the embarrassment of the leadership.

There are 12 members of Lok Sabha from Jharkhand of which seven belong to the BJP. The challenge before Munda is not only to retain these numbers but also ensure allies like JMM MP Shibu Soren and former BJP president Inder Singh Namdhari to vote for Jaswant Singh. Namdhari is a former state BJP president. In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP has just one member from the state as its major ally JMM has repeatedly embarrassed it in the polls to the council of states.

‘What is the party gaining from this government in Jharkhand other than disrepute? It’s time that we withdrew from it and started afresh for the 2014 Lok Sabha and the assembly polls thereafter,’ said a senior leader from the state.
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