Munda govt on the brink, JMM to pull out today

FP

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Monday announced its decision to pull out of the Arjun Munda government. JMM chief Shibu Soren said the party would submit a letter to the governor on Tuesday withdrawing support.

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

The JMM leader's son and one of the two deputy chief ministers, Hemant Soren, said: "We talked to our coalition partners trying to sort out various demands... In the absence of a consensus, the party has decided to withdraw support to this government."

While the party claims several factors prompted the move, including lax implementation of land tenancy laws, it has really been driven by a single agenda: the chief minister's position.

The party has been claiming that the BJP was meant to vacate the CM's post for it halfway through the government's term, as per an agreement. Munda, who took over on September 11, 2010, was due to complete 28 months in power on January 10. The BJP disputes this.

Its government set to be reduced to a minority, the BJP central leadership in Delhi is prepared for the worst. "The message from Delhi is very clear: not to yield to the demands of the JMM," a senior BJP leader said. The party's hopes rest on Munda and general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan finding a way out.

Top BJP leaders in Delhi said the party had explored the possibility of an alliance with the JVM (11), AJSU (6) and JD-U (2). However, this adds up to 37 MLAs, short of the 41 needed.

"The remaining (numbers) could have been managed from Independent MLAs, but as things stand, the Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha is unlikely to support Munda," said a BJP leader. Jharkhand has 10 Independent MLAs.

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