Soren toiling hard to get magic number

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS,

Ranchi : With independent legislators in Jharkhand still working hard to spoil his chances, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren Sunday said he was in no hurry to form the government.

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“I am not in a hurry to form the government. I will stake claim after Monday. I will also talk to Madhu Koda and Stephen Marandi – both our men (as United Progressive Alliance partners),” Soren told reporters.

Koda resigned from the chief minister’s Saturday evening but announced that he would not support Soren. “There is no question of supporting Soren. He will find it difficult to form the government,” Koda said.

Soren has succeeded in getting the support of two UPA, the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). But he has still not managed the magic number.

In the 82-member house, Soren needs the support of 42 legislators. At present he has the support of 37 legislators and he needs five more.

The JMM has 17 legislators and the Congress and RJD have nine and seven, respectively. Two suspended Bharatiya Janata Party legislators, Manohar Tekriwal and Vishnu Bhaiya, have expressed support for Soren. Two independents, Kamlesh Singh and Bandhu Tirkey, are also with Soren.

Of the seven legislators who are either independents or belong to smaller parties, six, including Koda, held a meeting Sunday to show that they are together.

Koda and former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi have already announced they will not support Soren. The five other legislators are Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Harinaryan Rai, Enos Ekka, Chandra Prakash Chaudhary and Jhobha Manjhi.

In the absence of support from independents, it will be difficult for him to stake claim. Soren is, therefore, trying to win over at least four of them.

According to sources in JMM, talks are on with independents. Some independents, it is being said, are bargaining hard. JMM is also hoping for the backing of two of the five Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislators.

In New Delhi, RJD chief and union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad has said the independents will support Soren and a UPA government will be formed again.

Political experts say this time Governor Syed Sibte Razi might not invite Soren to form an alternative government till he gets the list of 42 legislators. On March 2, 2005, after assembly elections, Razi had invited Soren despite the numbers being against him. Soren had to quit after nine days as he failed to prove majority on the floor of the house.

Soren seized the opportunity to become chief minister by offering much needed support to the UPA government at the centre for the trust vote in parliament last month.