New Delhi/Ranch, Jan. 17: The Union cabinet today recommended President's Rule in Jharkhand, nine days after chief minister Arjun Munda resigned when the JMM withdrew support to the 27-month-old coalition government, but kept the 82-member state Assembly in suspended animation.
A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to accept the report of Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed and refer the matter to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent, said a minister, who attended the meeting.
According to sources, the President, who was in Calcutta, was expected to sign the declaration tomorrow.
For Jharkhand, that has seen four chief ministers serve a number of truncated terms in 12 years of its existence, this will be the third stint of President's Rule (see chart on page 4).
Central rule was imposed in the state for the first time on January 19, 2009, after JMM's Shibu Soren was defeated in an Assembly bypoll at a time he needed to become an MLA to remain chief minister. Central rule was in force for nearly a year.
The second time was on June 1, 2010, when BJP withdrew support to the then Soren government over differences over voting for the UPA during a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. The state remained under central rule till September 10, 2010.
Today's decision of the Centre evoked sharp criticism from the BJP that has decided to launch a statewide agitation from tomorrow. Munda, who was in Delhi, termed the Centre's decision as unfortunate for the state.
"Keeping the Assembly in suspended animation would mean there is still an opportunity for Independents to grab power," he told The Telegraph over phone, understandably upset that the governor did not go by his recommendation of dissolving the Assembly.
Former deputy chief minister Hemant Soren said President's Rule was a temporary arrangement and that he was still hopeful of a popular government in the near future.
"The JMM has made all efforts to form a government. We even sought more time from the governor. State Congress leaders are also in favour of forming a government, but it did not happen," he added.
Raj Bhavan is awaiting a formal communication from the Centre. "No official communiqu� has reached us so far," said Aditya Swaroop, principal secretary to the governor.
Governor Syed Ahmed's official engagements tomorrow include a pulse polio campaign and the inauguration of the JSCA International Stadium Complex where India take on England on Saturday in the third ODI of a five-match series.
nBJP plans protest, Page 4