jmm: After the collapse of MVA, suspense on the future of the government JMM-Congrès

There is palpable suspense in political circles over the future of the JMM-Congress-RJD government led by Hemant Soren in Jharkhand amid recent developments including the internal crack over the presidential election and CM Soren under heat growing central investigative agencies. investigation/raids of some of his close associates in alleged corruption cases even as the CM also faces a delicate disqualification petition in the electoral commission/court for an alleged improper allocation of coal mine.

While Jharkhand’s ruling coalition formally maintains that all is well, political circles in Delhi and Ranchi privately acknowledge the clouds of uncertainty gathering over the two-and-a-half-year-old regime. JMM’s ‘constraints’ to vote for BJP presidential candidate Draupati Murmu stem from the fact that she is from the tribal community in addition to being a former governor of Jharkhand. Yet it is also a fact that the same ‘tribal-sensitive’ Sorens and JMM – despite then being in a ruling alliance with the BJP in the state – had voted for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee. in the 2012 presidential elections even after the BJP-led NDA aligned a top tribal leader PA Sangma against Mukherjee. Therefore, some believe that JMM’s enthusiasm for Murmu could also be CM’s way of mocking Dilli Durbar.

A few months after the 2012 presidential elections, the JMM severed its ties with the BJP and jumped on the pole to form the next state government (after a brief period of the president’s rule) in alliance with Congress. Many politicians based in Jharkhand and Delhi are wondering if this presidential poll could not be another revival too.

“There is a growing sense of certainty in political circles in Ranchi that a grand political plot is brewing and that it may only be a matter of time before it is executed. So much so that even some senior state government officials who had traveled to Delhi last week for a private function made it a point to pay courtesy calls on two state union ministers” , said a Jharkhand politician who did not want to be identified. Even though the focus is on JMM in the ever slippery terrain of Jharkhand, it is no secret that the state Congress only last year dodged an attempt to poach some of its MPs.

Incidentally, the radical changing of the guard in Maharashtra and the growing suspense in Jharkhand amid this round of presidential elections are also reminiscent of how the last presidential poll in 2017 also led to the coalition overhaul in neighboring Bihar, when then JD(U) CM Nitish Kumar first backed NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind arguing that he was the governor of Bihar then dumped the ‘maha gadbandhan’ and s is realigned with the ‘modified’ BJP.

Since the ball is in the JMM’s court, the Congressional and RJD camps seem to be cautious –– refraining from giving an “apology” or a “provocation”. The allies do not make a public issue of JMM turning around to vote for Murmu (whether formally announcing their choice or not). Likewise, they were restrained, if not supportive of JMM, on Soren’s issues with the mining lease, the recent mega cash grab from a senior IAS officer, and the ED raids.

Congress also showed restraint when the CM recently denied it the promised RS seat, and failed to act on the long-promised fifth ministerial slot, or by not holding regular meetings of the coordination group of the coalition. In Jharkhand’s 81-member Assembly, the JMM has 30 MPs, the Congress has 18 while the BJP has 26 MPs.

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