Jharkhand : Will the Congress-JMM tie will be Efficacious?
Congress in Search of new Allies?
We should recall the Economist Prime Minister lines :“That in Politics no one is a permanent enemy or permanent friend”
Since its inception in November 2000, government formation has been a game of musical chairs for the BJP and JMM. As a matter of fact, things spun so much out of any party’s control in 2006 that independent MLA Madhu Koda managed to grab the chief minister’s chair. Koda is now in jail on a slew of corruption charges.
In the last 12 years, Jharkhand has seen eight governments and two stints of President’s rule. The longest serving government lasted two-and-a-half years and the shortest 11 days. If one takes out the first CM Babulal Marandi, power has shuffled mainly between JMM presidentShibu Soren and BJP’s Arjun Munda. The political shenanigans began after 2003 when the first NDA government led by Marandi fell no sooner it rejected its alliance partner JD(U)’s demand of a change of chief minister. Power-hungry politicians have kept the state constantly on tenterhooks.
Munda and Soren have both been dethroned thrice by each other. In 2006, Koda, a former BJP minister, brought down the Munda government with the Congress’s and JMM’s support.
With Soren never really having given up his ambition for the CM’s chair, the current coalition was always unstable. Incidentally, Soren has never managed to retain power for more than six months. Munda has averaged better at two-and-a-half years.
The reasons behind the fall of governments have always been very trivial. The first government formed by Marandi fell after JD(U)’s Lalchand Mahato wanted the CM to remove the then power board chairman Rajib Ranjan. After the 2005 election, Soren insisted he could prove his party’s majority on the floor of the house, but failed.
In 2006, just when things appeared to be smooth, Koda pulled down the Munda government after the latter had not been attentive to his demand for repairing the Haat Ghamaria Road in West Singbhum under his constituency.
Soren again came to power in 2008 after bringing down Koda and then losing to political green horn Gopal Krishna Patar in the 2009 Tamar byelection. After 2009, when nothing concrete appeared to be working for any party, arch rivals BJP and JMM joined hands, and results are there for all to see that the Arjun Munda-led BJP government following the withdrawal of support by JMM on January 8 collapsed.
Congress and JMM appear to be inching closer towards forming an alternative government in Jharkhand which has been under President’s Rule imposed after fall of the Arjun Munda government on January 8. Shibu Soren’s party, which is supporting UPA-2 from outside, has been keen on forming an alternative government in the state in alliance with Congress ever since it broke up with the BJP leading to imposition of President’s Rule there on January 18.
While a large number of Congress leaders in the state are in favour of forming a government with JMM’s support as 18 months are still left for the current state assembly’s term to get over, the top brass of the party was initially reluctant for any such move.
Congress had supported an independent Madhu Koda-led government in the state and had to face criticism later as Koda got embroiled in serious corruption cases.
Besides, there are cases pending against some JMM leaders even now. Hence, the party leadership was wary of any such tie-up in the state. There, however, appears to have been a re-think over the issue of alliances now.
JVM (P), which had forged an alliance with Congress for the 2009 assembly elections, parted ways with it in April last year over the FDI issue.
Congress now appears to be veering around to the view that it has to tie up with some party for the next Lok Sabha elections there.
Out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, Congress has one MP Subodh Kant Sahay, while JMM has two members. They had fought the last general elections separately. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, when both parties had fought in alliance, Congress had won six and JMM four seats respectively bringing 10 seats in the UPA kitty. The Congress has decided to ally with regional party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to stake claim to form the government in Jharkhand. The agreement offers the post of the Chief Minister to Hemant Soren, the son of JMM chief Shibu Soren. In exchange, the JMM will reportedly allow the Congress to contest 10 of the 14 parliamentary seats from the state. The Congress is likely to get five ministries in the Jharkhand government. Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, will get two, said sources, in exchange for his support.
A senior Congress leader said the option of government formation with JMM was back on the table after a strict no from the leadership for the last six months since the Arjun Munda government fell in January.
JMM, led by Hemant Soren, and Congress’s central leaders B K Hari Prasad and Shakeel Ahmed were locked in discussions to hammer out a deal in the AICC office.
Sources said Congress wants a political agreement beyond the local government that would publicly declare the Lok Sabha seats the potential allies would contest.
Sources said Congress was less interested about participating in the government and more on the parliamentary dimension of the possible tie-up. A public declaration is seen to tie the unpredictable ally to its commitment.
JMM has been nudging Congress to form government in the state after it toppled the BJP-led alliance in January. Congress steered clear of the pressure to join hands with Shibu Soren, wary of the latter’s move in future.
However, insiders believe the time to fulfill JMM’s wish is opportune as it could be used to beef up its thin political muscle for future electoral battle.
An alliance, if it runs to parliamentary polls, would not only boost Congress and JMM’s chances by polling their support base but would also check BJP’s ability to gain from a divided rival camp in a state where it has posted good tally in the past.
A decision has to be taken before July 18 on whether to form a government or extend the term of President’s Rule. Hemant Soren, son of JMM leader Shibu Soren, who is tipped to be the next chief minister, drove to the AICC headquarters where he was closeted with Congress general secretary in-charge for Jharkhand Hariprasad. Soren, who also met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and got assurance from her.
Moreover, he was made to wait for almost an hour in the AICC when he came to meet Hariprasad, which triggered speculation over things going awry for the alliance. However, leaders from both parties dismissed such contentions indicating that the alliance is very much on the cards.
Sources said that Congress wanted a clear assurance from the JMM about the support to the new government by the six independent MLAs. Though there is speculation that Congress CLP leader Rajinder Prasad Singh could be made a Deputy Chief Minister, there was no such indication from the AICC.
Former 3 times Union Minister and the sole MP of Congress from Jharkhand Shri.Subodh Kant Sahay, who met Hariprasad, later said that the alliance is important for Congress for next Lok Sabha polls more than it is for government formation. Sources in JMM said that the party has agreed to give 10 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats to Congress in which the latter will have to accommodate the RJD.So,here the question rises that is Congress eager to milk JMM’s eagerness by securing a deal on the 2014 elections.
Speculation continues that Hemant Soren would be the new chief minister of the state but the big challenge is that will the government completes its tenure successfully,peacefully till the state elections.As if we see the graph of governance in Jharkhand it has never rised but always showed a negative sign of decline. The big question is will the congress ask for the CM chair after 6 months as speculation continues & if they ask would the CM step down.
While Sr. Congress Leader & the President of Ranchi Congress Committee Shri.Surindra Singh is very much sure that the Congress-JMM led new government in Jharkhand will be the people’s government , stable government, peaceful governance, with a powerful administration & zero tolerance from corruption. But lets see the Congress Leaders word would really be truth or a nightmare. Now,the question rises will the two enemies join hand towards developing Jharkhand or just fooling the governance?
Here we should recall the Economist Prime Minister lines :“That in Politics no one is a permanent enemy or permanent friend”