This Week Jharkhand: Cong keeps JMM waiting
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No one seems to know what is on the Congress's mind when it comes to Jharkhand, with even seasoned JMM leaders reduced to a bundle of nerves. Awaiting a positive response on its proposed alliance with the party, JMM leaders have been shuttling between Delhi and Ranchi, searching for clues in the poker faces of Congress leaders. It got so bad that even the ageing Shibu Soren was in the Capital last week in an apparent attempt to work out a coalition. However, the party that withdrew support to the Arjun Munda government with an eye on Congress support has so far met with little luck. With Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal declaring in Ranchi that the Congress was not interested in a JMM alliance, the Sorens have every reason to worry.
Fresh from the fall of his government, Arjun Munda had political observers scratching their heads on January 21 when he shared the dais with his nemesis Hemant Soren. The two were together at Jamshedpur's Tusu Mela, seated on the same sofa and exchanging pleasantries throughout the programme. Hemant, who reportedly nurtures chief ministerial ambitions, had been widely seen as the catalyst behind the JMM's withdrawal of support to the Munda government. However, far from seeming angry, Munda played a few rounds of golf, sang some Santhali songs and played drums at the venue. At a time when the Congress is clearly reluctant to be seen with the JMM, rumour mills were buzzing about the possibility of the JMM and BJP coming together again.
Marandi, Koda as dark horses
With chief ministership still an open issue, the focus is also on two others who have held the post in the state — Babulal Marandi and Madhu Koda. The head of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P), Marandi has become a lone warrior of late, cutting off ties with the Congress and diligently readying his party for the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Marandi sees himself as a kingmaker, returning to the top post after denting the chances of others. He has been the most vocal opponent of the President's rule, calling for elections instead. Koda, on the other hand, is busy trying to wriggle out of the numerous cases he finds himself entangled in. While he has got bail in two cases, the Supreme Court recently dashed Koda's hopes by giving the Enforcement Directorate 45 more days to investigate him. Koda's supporters though are waiting for his return, with some of them hoping that his wife and Independent MLA Geeta Koda will become at least a minister if the JMM manages to form a ruling alliance with the Congress.
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