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Soren Keeps All Options Open

Bokaro (Jharkhand):  Keeping the BJP guessing, the JMM on Saturday  said it was in touch with the Congress and all options were open including changing its alliance.  "It is for the BJP to look for
PTI May 22, 2010 18:07 IST
PTI

Bokaro (Jharkhand):  Keeping the BJP guessing, the JMM on Saturday  said it was in touch with the Congress and all options were open including changing its alliance.

 "It is for the BJP to look for options. I am in touch with both and the Congress and BJP. All options are open. My government will stay," Soren, who has to step down as chief minister by June 30 if he is not elected to the assembly by then, told reporters here. 

Striking a defiant note, the JMM chief had yesterday said he would complete his tenure, backtracking on his May 18 statement that he will resign after the party reached an agreement with the BJP for sharing power on a rotational basis with the BJP to head the government first. 

His son, Hemant Soren, JMM's legislative party leader was more forthright today. "We are also in touch with the Congress, and if the situation warrants, we can change our alliance," he told reporters here. 

The BJP, however, accused the Congress of trying to repeat the Madhu Koda-experiment with Independent MLA Bandhu Tirkey by promoting him for the chief minister's post.

"They had experimented (with Madhu Koda) earlier for about 23 months, and now they are trying to repeat the experiment," BJP national general Secretary Arjun Munda, who was the party's chief ministerial candidate, said. 

Tirkey said he did not nurse such 'illusions' but would support any non-BJP government.  "I don't have such aspirations. I don't even desire a minister's post, let alone the CM's. I have withdrawn support to the government as we prefer a non-BJP government in the state," Tirkey told PTI over phone. 

Tirkey, who is the lone MLA of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch, had withdrawn support to Soren government soon after the JMM offered the BJP the CM's post.

Hemant said the JMM is determined to complete its full term.  He claimed there was no written understanding between the JMM and the BJP that power would be handed to the ally on May 25.

"We are mystified as to how the date emerged. Our party president is the chief minister now and will remain so," he said.  The chief minister said he would meet JMM legislators tomorrow in Ranchi and make "a final announcement".

Hemant said "JMM is a regional party and any decision which cannot be taken at the JMM legislative party meeting will be left to the party chief. His decision is above all."

Soren, whose voting for the UPA during a cut motion in the Lok Sabha on April 28 prompted the BJP to decide on withdrawal support to his government, has to find a constitutency to enter the Assembly by June end. He is currently an MP.

He failed to enter the assembly during his second stint, losing a bypoll from Tamar constituency in January 2009, leading to imposition of President's Rule in the state for a year. His first term in 2005 lasted just nine days.

The JMM and the BJP have 18 MLAs each and the Soren government has the support of two JDU legislators and five from the AJSU, besides two others in the 82-member Assembly. 

Meanwhile, AJSU Vice-President, Praveen Prabhakar, said the two allies "should take a final decision as soon as possible to end the political uncertainty". PTI