After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Congress legislature unit in Jharkhand is seeing serious dissent and rumble. More than half of the 15 MLAs of the Congress, which is part of the ruling coalition led by Hemant Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), are said to be unhappy, either with the Soren government, the state Congress leadership, or both.
The Congress appears to be replicating what happened in Rajasthan in Jharkhand as well. One of the reasons why MLAs loyal to Sachin Pilot rebelled against the party’s own government in Rajasthan was them being “sidelined” and the government according no importance to them.
Speaking to India Today TV, a senior Congress MLA from Jharkhand said, “The Hemant Soren government is a replica of the last BJP government run by Raghubar Das. We are as insignificant as we were back then. Issues concerning people are completely ignored by the chief minister and four Congress ministers in his cabinet.”
This political crisis within the Congress is not confined to Ranchi, the state capital. Three senior MLAs — Irfan Ansari, Umashankar Akeka and Rajesh Kashyap — on Wednesday landed in Delhi and met senior Congress leader and key party troubleshooter Ahmed Patel.
In the meeting they are said to have lodged a formal complaint against the chief minister and the state Congress leaders. Besides these, the other Congress MLAs who are said to be unhappy in Jharkhand are V Kongri, Bhushan Bara, Mamta Devi, Amba Prasad, Purnima N Singh and Ram Chandra Singh.
Irfan Ansari, who represents the Jamtara assembly constituency, recently created a flutter when he said, “We have been trying to convey our problems before Rahul Gandhi but there are forces that are not letting us meet the party leadership. Instead of strengthening the party in Jharkhand, the Congress central leaders are leading to its disintegration.”
WHAT’S BEHIND THE SCENE?
At the heart of the churn in the Congress is one cabinet berth that has been kept vacant by Chief Minister Hemant Soren. Senior Congress MLAs are eyeing at this vacancy.
The Jharkhand government can have 12 ministers including the CM, however Soren has filled only 11 so far.
Irafan Ansari made his ambitions clear when he recently said, “I am a qualified MBBS doctor. This is my second term as an MLA representing the Jamtara constituency. The Hindu population here is almost 70 per cent. That proves my popularity. Still I am not getting my due.”
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Ansari failed to get a cabinet berth as Chief Minister Hemant Soren filled up the two cabinet berths with MLAs from his own party.
DUAL ROLE: THE OTHER FACTOR
Besides the lone vacant cabinet berth, Congress MLAs are also unhappy with the fact that Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon also holds the post of the state Congress president.
Speaking off the record, disgruntled Congress MLAs say the party’s rule of one-person-one-post needs to be implemented in the state.
If the Congress leadership gives in to their pressure, there are chances that another vacancy in the cabinet may open up.
Meanwhile, Oraon has claimed that the voices of dissent among Congress MLAs were due to the attempts that are being made by the BJP to influence Congress MLAs in Jharkhand.
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“The BJP is bitter since it lost the election and the Congress, JMM and others came together to form an alliance government in Jharkhand. Now, the BJP is trying to win over MLAs by alluring them with posts and money. It is trying the same formula to gain power through the backdoor,” he said.
Legislator Pradeep Yadav, an ex-BJP man had won the election on the ticket of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). But when JVM founder Babulal Marandi joined the BJP, Yadav decided to join hands with the Congress. While the JVM has petitioned the Speaker against his attempts to join Congress, Yadav’s support to the BJP candidate in recent Rajya Sabha polls raised eyebrows in the state.
For the BJP, cracks in Jharkhand Congress offers hope.
Sources say the BJP has already started reaching out to MLAs of different parties in the state. However, asked about it, state BJP president Deepak Prakash rejected the allurement charges and claimed that the party in power neither trusts its MLAs nor respects them.
WHAT NUMBERS SAY
Though the Congress in Jharkhand has fissures within its ranks and BJP is said to be throwing its net out, political experts say the Hemant Soren-led coalition government is safe at present.
In the 81-member Assembly, Hemant Soren’s JMM has 29 MLAs, Congress has 15, and the RJD, NCP and CPI(ML) have one MLA each. Taken together, Soren has 47 MLAs plus Pradeep Yadav of the erstwhile JVM.
On the other hand, the BJP has only 26 MLAs, including former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, who merged his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha with it.
However, the BJP is still unfettered. Senior party leaders in Ranchi say that the Congress-JMM alliance is not very cohesive and the division in the camp is bound to make Chief Minister Hemant Soren jittery.
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