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Yashwant Sinha could be next Jharkhand CM
NEW DELHI: BJP has, in principle, decided to accept JMM’s offer to lead the next coalition government in Jharkhand, but would like the tribal-dominated outfit to give firm assurances of support before taking a formal position on the issue.

The split in JMM over handing over the chief minister’s chair was an additional area of concern and the saffron party wanted to factor in all these issues before taking a final call.

Sniffing a shift in power dynamics in the state, jockeying has begun in earnest among BJP leaders to occupy the top government post. Former chief minister Arjun Munda, who’s presently a national general secretary and is a Lok Sabha member from Jamshedpur, was said to have lost the edge to former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha. The advantage Mr Munda had because of his tribal origins has been neutralised by a powerful section in the party who point to his bad track as chief minister twice earlier.

While agreeing to concede the chief minister’s post to the BJP, Mr Hemant Soren, in his letter written to Mr Nitin Gadkari on Thursday evening, asked the saffron leadership to keep the tribal aspirations in mind while zeroing down on its nominee.

Mr Munda, who’s been the state chief minister twice in the past, enjoys the backing of former BJP presidents Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu. The two leaders were said to lobbying hard for giving Mr Munda a third stint.

An influential section of the party was, however, in favour of asking Mr Sinha, who represents Hazaribagh in the Lok Sabha, to lead the coalition. Besides enjoying the reputation of being a good and able administrator, Mr Sinha, they argue, had the necessary political acumen to lead the state in these trying times, when stability and good governance were the need of the hour.

If the two parties manage to swing a deal, Mr Hemant Soren will become the deputy chief minister under the new scheme of things. There will, in fact, be two deputy chief ministers, the other being the AJSU’s Sudesh Mahto, who holds the post in the Soren government too.

BJP’s central parliamentary board, which met here this morning to consider the JMM’s offer, has invited chief minister Shibu Soren and his son Hemant, who’s emerged as his party’s interlocutor with its alliance partners in the government formation exercise, to come to the Capital on Saturday to hold discussions on firming up the proposal. The state BJP leadership, lead by deputy chief minister Raghuvar Das, in the meanwhile, arrived here this evening to brief the party top brass on the situation prevailing in Jharkhand.

With the JMM agreeing to play second fiddle, the CPB this morning decided to put on hold its plans to withdraw support to the Shibu Soren Ministry and is reportedly exploring ways of government formation there.

“The BJP parliamentary board has decided that party leaders will talk to our alliance partners in Jharkhand, namely, JMM, JD(U) and AJSU, and our state unit leadership to take a decision on the proposal of Hemant Soren," senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar said while briefing newspersons about the outcome of the CPB meeting. Till then, he added, the decision to withdraw support to Shibu Soren government has been put on hold.

The BJP leadership, in their deliberations, decided to accept the JMM offer and overturn their earlier decision to withdraw support to the Soren government, mainly to keep the Congress at bay and ward off the possibility of President’s rule in the state. The prospect of leading the next government in Jharkhand, and adding another state to its kitty was seen as a bonus.

There was at the same time also a realisation that the next government, like the ones preceding it, would be equally fragile in view of the arithmetic of the state assembly.

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