President’s rule in Jharkhand, opposition unhappy


Ranchi/New Delhi : Putting an end to political uncertainty that followed Chief Minister Shibu Soren’s electoral defeat, the central government Monday imposed president’s rule in Jharkhand but kept the state assembly in suspended animation.

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The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said the decision could have come earlier and criticised the government for keeping the 81-member assembly in suspended animation.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituents welcomed the decision but maintained that they had a majority in the house.

A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved Governor Syed Sibte Razi’s recommendation to impose president’s rule, or direct central rule, in the state.

The governor’s recommendation came as the UPA did not suggest any leader to head the government after Soren’s resignation.

Uncertainty began Jan 8 after Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren lost the Tamar assembly byelection, which he needed to win to continue as chief minister under the constitutional provisions, and resigned Jan 12.

“President’s rule should have been imposed earlier. The central government is directly or indirectly promoting horse-trading by keeping the state assembly under suspended animation,” former chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arjun Munda told IANS in Ranchi.

“The state assembly should be dissolved to prevent horse-trading and fresh elections should be conducted to get people’s verdict,” he said.

The state unit of the Congress, a key constituent of the ruling UPA, blamed Soren for the “crisis”.

“The central government had no option but to impose president’s rule. It was Soren’s adamant attitude that pushed the state to the present situation. The political crisis was created by Soren,” said Alok Dubey, spokesperson of the Congress’s state unit.

Added former deputy chief minister and Independent legislator Stephen Marandi: “Soren’s blind love for family and lack of political vision has pushed the state back by many years.”

Commenting on the move to keep the assembly in suspended animation, Marandi pointed out that the UPA continues to enjoy majority in the house.

“We have to choose a leader by consensus. The day we select a consensus leader, we may stake claim to form the next government,” Marandi said.

The JMM defended its president.

“As directed by the central leaders, we chose our party leader. The other constituents of the UPA failed to put their seal on the name. Shibu Soren cannot be blamed for the present crisis,” said JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya.

With the state under direct central rule, Governor Sibtey Razi Monday met top government and police officials.

According to a governor’s house official, Razi summoned state Chief Secretary A.K. Basu and Director General of Police (DGP) V.D. Ram and took stock of the situation in the state.

“The chief secretary and DGP apprised the governor about the law and order situation and development work in the state. The chief secretary also apprised the governor of the strike of state employees and junior doctors of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS),” the official told IANS.

According to informed sources, the governor directed the chief secretary to hold talks with the striking personnel to end the strike. Razi also expressed concern about the law and order situation.