JMM-Congress alliance in Jharkhand? Party leaders may meet today

JMM-Congress alliance in Jharkhand? Party leaders may meet today
New Delhi Whiff of a possible alliance between the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress to form the next government in Jharkhand is in the air. JMM leaders are in Delhi to try and hold talks with the Congress after the regional party pulled out of the 28-month-old BJP-led coalition government.

The JMM leaders are being led by Hemant Soren. Simon Marandi, Mathura Mahto and Hazi Hussain Ansari are with him.

Jharkhand plunged into a political crisis yesterday after the JMM withdrew support to the BJP and forced Chief Minister Arjun Munda to resign.

The JMM would prefer a tie-up with the Congress to keep Babulal Marandi's Jharkhand Vikas Morcha away. It also wants the chief minister's post for Hemant Soren.

But the Congress is wary of the JMM's poor record in keeping coalitions working. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday met party leaders P Chidambaram, AK Antony and Jharkhand in-charge Shakeel Ahmed to discuss the strategy in Jharkhand.

Sources said the Congress would like to wait and watch if Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed keeps the Assembly suspended or invites another coalition to form the next government.

The BJP and JMM have 18 members each in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly. The Congress has 13.

The Congress unit in Jharkhand had yesterday dropped hints it was not averse to taking a shot at power in the state. "We will definitely start dialogue to form the government. We are hoping that some proposal may come from JMM," Pradeep Balmuchu, chief of the Congress in Jharkhand, had said.

The dispute between the JMM and the BJP has been over the chief minister's post. The JMM alleges that a pact entitles it to the post this week, half way through the government's term. But Mr Munda has reportedly denied that such an agreement exists.

Jharkhand has seen eight governments in the last 12 years. All eyes are now on Governor Ahmad. He can either decide to act on the outgoing Cabinet's recommendation and dissolve the Assembly or wait for another combine to stake claim.
Story First Published: January 09, 2013 08:03 IST

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