Ranchi: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to tell Arjun Munda to step down from the post of Jharkhand Chief Minister. Sources say JMM chief Shibu Soren while asking for a change of leadership within the BJP told Arjun Munda to either step down and hand power to JMM or to make someone else from the BJP chief minister.
However, the BJP refused to give any commitment to the JMM on sharing power in the mineral-rich state, sources say. The BJP leadership is convinced that the JMM can't be in power in Jharkhand without its support.
The JMM has been threatening to withdraw support to the Arjun Munda-led coalition government for the last few weeks. JMM leaders are meeting to again on Monday in Ranchi to decide on their next course of action after the meeting on Sunday failed to finalise the party's strategy.
JMM chief Shibu Soren has threatened the BJP that his party would walk out of the alliance if the chief minister's post is not handed over to the JMM as a part of the deal under which the two parties had agreed to share it for 28 months each. But the BJP has been maintaining that no such agreement was worked out between the two parties and is firmly behind Munda, whose 28-month tenure ends on January 10.
Both the BJP and JMM have 18 MLAs each in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly. If the JMM withdraws its support than the Munda government will fall. Sunday's meeting that went on for over eight hours at Soren's residence was attended all MPs and MLAs of the party. Sources say that a majority of JMM MLAs are in favour of pulling out from the alliance.
Munda had on January 3 said he had in writing rejected JMM's claim that there was a power sharing deal between the two parties and that the latter has to take a decision keeping stability of the government in mind. "The issue (power sharing deal) which they (JMM) have raised had not been placed (during formation of government," Munda said in Ranchi without naming Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
"I have given point-wise replies to the issues raised through a letter by the ally (JMM) and given to me by the party's legislature leader (Hemant Soren). And I believe they will discuss on it, keeping the coalition's effort in providing a stable government for the last two years and will continue in the future too," he said and expected that the coalition parties would keep Jharkhand's interest in mind while taking a decision on his reply.
Soren had on December 25 submitted to the chief minister a list of certain issues, including clearing Munda's stand on the purported rotational power sharing for 28 months each. Asked whether state's image was tarnished by political instability, Munda said any decision on the future of the alliance should be taken keeping Jharkhand's image in mind.
"Jharkhand's image in the public eye has been very bad, and I have tried to improve it during the last two years and I am getting good results. I would like it to be carried forward in the interest of the state's progress," Munda said. "This is the responsibility of all political parties," he said.
Criticising the Congress, Munda said "Democracy is all about having majority for one party or for an alliance. I would welcome if Congress has a desire to provide leadership to the state and if it has the numbers to form government, because the state requires stability."
"Stability and progress are the need of the hour for Jharkhand," Munda said.
Later, JMM leader and deputy chief minister Hemant Soren said everything would be cleared by January 10. "We have received the letter from the chief minister. There are two meetings of the party on January 6 and 10, and by January 10 everything will be cleared," Soren said.