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BJP Gives Shibu Soren A Deadline Of May 25 To Quit

Reflecting growing resentment in a section of BJP top brass over continuing political uncertainty in Jharkhand, senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Friday said the state had become "a theatre of the absurd".  "It
PTI May 21, 2010 17:43 IST
PTI
Reflecting growing resentment in a section of BJP top brass over continuing political uncertainty in Jharkhand, senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Friday said the state had become "a theatre of the absurd".

 "It has become a theatre of the absurd. I would not like to say anything more on this," Joshi told reporters when asked for his views on JMM dilly-dallying over support to a BJP-led government.

 His statement came as BJP appeared to have set a deadline of May 25 for a government led by its leader Arjun Munda to take charge, once JMM chief and Chief Minister Shibu Soren resigns as promised.

 "BJP will hold a Parliamentary Board meeting on May 25 at 3 pm to discuss the Jharkhand issue," party sources said.  They said the meeting has been scheduled as a back-up plan in case JMM creates a last minute hitch.

 If JMM goes back on its word, BJP is likely to withdraw support to the Shibu Soren government by evening of May 25, the sources said.

 After JMM Legislature Party leader Hemant Soren pledged support in writing to a BJP-led government, his party has gone back and forth on its word several times.

While Joshi refused to cross the "laxman rekha" of party discipline and did not elaborate on the issue, party sources said several members of BJP Parliamentary Board including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were opposed to government formation and favoured withdrawal of support to the Shibu Soren government in the tribal state.

"The best option was to continue with the first Parliamentary Board decision the day after Soren voted against the cut-motion in Lok Sabha and we should have withdrawn support to his government," a BJP leader said.

The BJP Parliamentary Board had been unanimous in its decision on April 28, sources said.

Three days after agreeing to share power with the BJP on a rotational basis in Jharkhand, Chief Minister Shibu Soren did another volte face on Friday and said his government would complete its full five year term.

 "I have formed the government for five years, and shall complete the tenure. Who will remove me?" Soren asked while backtracking on his own announcement on May 18 that BJP and JMM will share power for 28 months each with the BJP taking over in the first phase.  Soren, who maintained that there was no deadline for his resignation, said "the question of a change of government comes if there is no development. But now development is going on."

On Thursday, Soren also did not rule out contesting a bypoll to enter the house which he must do constitutionally by June 30 as he is an MP. He will have to step down in a month's time if he fails to get elected from any assembly seat within six months of his taking over as the CM.

 Soren's son Hemant, the JMM legislature party leader, who made an offer to the BJP to head the government in the state after it had withdrawn support on April 28, said "The party has to abide by whatever decision the president (Soren) has taken or will take." 

Meanwhile, BJP leader Arjun Munda, who has been entrusted by the party leadership to deal with the crisis, refused to speak to the media.  Munda and Soren had on May 18 announced the agreement to share power on a rotational basis with the BJP to take over for the first 28 months.

Agriculture Minister Mathura Prasad Mahato also said "The party president is the final authority to take a decision, and we stand by him."  Meanwhile Opposition leader Rajendra Prasad Singh of the Congress said, "we do not believe in dislodging a government, but we have been observing the political crisis very closely." PTI