Who will BJP choose as next Jharkhand chief minister?


Ranchi: With the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) having agreed to support a government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, ending the lingering political crisis in Jharkhand, the focus now has shifted to who will be the BJP nominee for chief minister.

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Will the BJP follow the tradition of having a tribal chief minister or will it nominate a non-tribal? At present the three top contenders are – former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, former chief minister and BJP national general secretary Arjun Munda and deputy chief minister and state BJP president Raghubar Das. Sinha and Munda are Lok Sabha members.

Senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar Saturday said in New Delhi: “The BJP will form a government with support of the JMM and the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) in Jharkhand. The party parliamentary board meeting on May 10 will decide about the name of the chief minister.”

In the last nine years, Jharkhand had seven chief ministers and all belonged to the tribal community. The BJP formed the first government in Jharkhand in November 2000 and appointed a tribal, Babulal Marandi, as the chief minister.

Marandi, however, quit the BJP in 2006 and floated his party, Jhakrhand Vikas Morcha-Prajanatantrik (JVM-P).

The JMM, which will support the BJP government, has said it should chose a tribal as the next chief minister. However, the BJP is learnt to have reacted sharply to the condition and told JMM leaders that it was an internal party matter.

In Jharkhand, the tribal population constitutes nearly 27 percent. Both the BJP and JMM have strong presence among the tribal population.

The three front runners have enough experience to become chief minister.

Experts feel Yashwant Sinha, a former bureaucrat and former central minister, could provide a good government, but would he be able to manage the alliance?

Arjun Munda was chief minister for three and a half years. His government rating is not bad given the fact that the state faced misrule during the Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren regimes.

The third BJP front runner, Raghubar Das is a fourth-time legislator and has been minister for many years. At present he is deputy chief minister and state BJP president.

If Sinha or Munda is chosen, he will have to become a member of the state assembly within six months. If the BJP decides on a legislator as the next chief minister, there are many names for the seat. Among tribal legislators, Nilkanth Singh Munda and Barkuwar Gagrai are contenders.

Jharkhand BJP leaders, however, say the party should consider one of the three leaders – Sinha, Munda or Das – otherwise factionalism will increase in the party. In-fighting saw the BJP’s seats reduce to 18 from 30 in the Jharkhand assembly.

“The issue before the party is who will provide good governance and manage the alliance. Anyone who becomes the chief minister will have to cope with the alliance contradictions. The JMM has many dissenting legislators and it will be indeed a difficult job to keep them within the alliance,” a BJP leader told IANS.