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Soren Resigns After Failing To Cobble Up Majority

Three-time Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren resigned tonight after failing to get the support of Congress and its ally JVM(P) ahead of tomorrow's trust vote in the assembly that may pave the way for a
PTI May 30, 2010 23:39 IST

Three-time Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren resigned tonight after failing to get the support of Congress and its ally JVM(P) ahead of tomorrow's trust vote in the assembly that may pave the way for a spell of President's rule in the state.

The beleagured chief minister, who has only 25 MLAs behind him in the 82-member house, submitted the letter to Governor M O H Farooq shortly after 10 pm at Raj Bhavan. Soren needed to muster a strength of 42 to sail through the trust vote.

Farooq asked him to continue as caretaker CM till further arrangement, the principal secretary to Governor, Sudhir Tripathi said.

66-year-old Soren's resignation came after he and his deputy Sudesh Mahto failed to woo the BJP back into the fold ever since the 18-member BJP along with 2 from JD(U) withdrew support to his five-month-old government on May 24.

"We appealed to all parties and MLAs to rise above party lines and vote in favour of Guruji (Soren) and avert President's rule or mid-term polls.

But when we learnt that all the parties have resolved to vote against the government, we decided that Guruji should put in his papers," AJSU President and Deputy Chief Minister Sudesh Mahto and Agriculture minister Hemlal Murmu told newsmen.

JMM legislative party leader and Soren's son Hemant Soren, said "We tried our best and appealed to all parties. If Guruji's remaining as CM was a hurdle, that has been removed now."

"We will see what better alternative is on cards," the leaders said when asked about the JMM/AJSU's future course of action. 

Mahto said as the deadlock could not be resolved with the like-minded parties, there was no option for Soren but to put in his papers.

Jharkhand had plunged into political uncertainty when Soren voted with the Manmohan Singh Government on a cut motion on April 27, triggering speculation that he would go to national politics giving his son Hemant the charge of Jharkhand.

But the next day an annoyed BJP swiftly decided to pull the rug from under his feet.

The same night Soren's son Hemant apologised and offered the chief minister's post to the BJP in writing that prompted the saffron party's parliamentary board to put on hold its decision on April 29.

The two sides reached an understanding on May 8 but couldn't take off after the BJP's central leadership said that the BJP would form the government with the support of JMM, a claim Soren denied the same evening saying the two parties would share the power on rotational basis.

After several days of uncertainty the BJP agreed to share power with the JMM on May 18 and in the first phase of 28 months Arjun Munda would head a BJP-led government on May 25 by when Soren will resign. Soren once against put his foot down on May 20 saying he would continue as the CM.

Again two days later the JMM strogman claimed to have a 'pending offer' at the Manmohan Singh cabinet and suggested he was weighing all options, including cutting a deal with the Congress to continue in power. Congress has 14 MLAs while its ally JVM(P) has 11 legislators. This prompted the BJP to finally withdraw support on May 24.

Soren had no option but to quit after his fate remained uncertain as Congress and its ally JVM(P) did not spell out their stand.

The BJP too issued a whip to its MLAs to vote against his government, rejecting the JMM leadership's appeal to it and other party MLAs to listen to their 'inner voice' and conscience and vote in favour of the Soren government that would 'prevent central rule and mid-term polls'.

Soren has the support of only 25 MLAs -  JMM-18, AJSU-5 and Independent-2. After BJP withdrew support to the government, the Governor had asked Soren to prove his majority in the assembly by May 31.

The strength of the other parties in the house is; RJD (5), the CPI (ML-Liberation-one), the Marxist Coordination Committee (one), Jharkhand Party (one), Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (one), two independents, JDU-two, besides a nominated MLA.

Soren, who took oath on December 30 as the seventh chief minister at the head of JMM-NDA-AJSU coalition, had only upto June 30 to remain as the CM because he had to enter the house within six months of his swearing-in date.

This was the third time in the over nine years of the state's creation when Soren resigned. On all occasions he had been the member of Lok Sabha. In 2005, he resigned without facing a trust vote after nine days in office. On January 12, 2009, Soren once again resigned from the post after failing to enter the house following his defeat in the Tamar bypoll.

The state was created on November 15, 2000 and got fractured mandate in 2005 and 2009 assembly elections, leaving it as a politically fragile state.

A key figure in the creation of Jharkhand after battling exploitation of tribals by money lenders in his youth and courting controversy as a politician, Soren seems to have no luck as chief minister having to resign for a third time after a short-lived term.

He was born in Nemhra village in Hazaribagh on January 11, 1944. The murder of his father, Somlang, a school teacher in the 1960s made him take up the battle against exploitation of poor tribals by money lenders. PTI