Debating India

JHARKHAND

Will Marandi upset the apple cart?

Thursday 18 May 2006, by VYAS*Neena

Arjun Munda Government in Jharkhand has a bare majority

NEW DELHI: The Arjun Munda Government in Jharkhand has a bare majority and even if two MLAs were to resign it would be in danger of falling, BJP leaders admitted informally here on Wednesday.

It is not very clear whether Babulal Marandi, MP, who quit the BJP, will take away some MLAs with him. He has nursed a grudge against party leaders ever since Mr. Munda replaced him as Chief Minister in 2003,

On Thursday, he is expected to make a formal announcement in Jharkhand, where he is now on a dharna.

On Tuesday, general secretary Sanjay Joshi went to Ranchi but failed to persuade Mr. Marandi to give up his dharna plan against the "corrupt" Munda Government.

Last May, Mr. Marandi revolted against the appointment of Yadunath Pandey as Jharkhand unit chief by the then party president L.K. Advani. But he was persuaded not to press his protest with a resignation.

Party leaders agree that Mr. Marandi - who was the first BJP Chief Minister of Jharkhand after the State was carved out of Bihar - has a popular support base among tribals. His continuance became untenable after he unleashed a "domicile" policy for employment, which had the potential to start a virtual civil war between the tribal and non-tribal population. On Wednesday morning senior leaders met at the residence of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to discuss the Jharkhand situation. Besides Mr. Rajnath Singh, those present included Mr. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Sushma Swaraj and V.K. Malhotra.

Apparently, the subject of change of Chief Minister came up. But that option was not seriously considered for, it was felt that the party in Jharkhand could not be run at the behest of one person.It was felt that, after last May, Mr. Marandi was "accommodated" as party vice-president and more recently included in the prestigious central election committee revamped by Mr. Rajnath Singh.

Reports from Jharkhand suggest that Mr. Marandi will join hands with independent MLA Stephen Marandi, with whom he has been working under the banner of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, an apolitical outfit.

See online : The Hindu

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