BJP ready for a floor test

New Delhi, Jan. 7: BJP claimed it was not fazed by JMM's withdrawal of support to the ruling coalition, claiming it was ready to face a floor test, failing which it was prepared to see either an alternative formation or President's rule.

A senior BJP leader privy to the Jharkhand political developments stated categorically that the leaders would not give it to Shibu Soren's demands for a JMM chief minister in place of Arjun Munda. Nor would it replace Munda with another BJP nominee.

Party sources claimed that even now they harboured the hope that the JMM would either not bite the bullet and formally pull the rug or the Sorens might not be able to hold their party together.

"We are told that many of their MLAs are against the decision. So there is hope that if there is a floor test, they might vote against the party whip. Or the JMM can split before that. The Sorens' move is dictated by personal ego and not driven by the interest of the JMM," the leader said.

Shortly after news of the JMM's move reached them in Delhi, BJP general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan, who minds Jharkhand, rushed to party chief Nitin Gadkari's residence to take stock of the situation. Former BJP president Rajnath Singh, in Lucknow today, is also expected to be in Delhi shortly because he had looked after Jharkhand in the past and was instrumental with Gadkari in installing Munda as chief minister.

Sources claimed the leaders were "expecting" such a response from the JMM because the Sorens were "blowing hot" towards Munda for the past few days.

"We will not countenance undue pressure from anybody. The JMM is talking about an agreement (on having a chief minister by rotation) that is non-existent. That agreement existed when we previously shared power with them. But in the second spell of the coalition, no such pact was signed. We don't mind foregoing power and going in for another election," the leader added.

However, a source from the Jharkhand BJP maintained that notwithstanding Delhi's "bravado", the party's MLAs and MPs were not happy with the prospect of losing power.

Some suggested that Munda should be replaced because the JMM had "at least" agreed to continue backing a BJP-led dispensation minus the incumbent chief minister.

"Why are the leaders so stuck on Munda?" a source asked, insinuating that Gadkari was "hell bent" on keeping him on "for reasons he knows best".

If the Jharkhand government goes, it will be the second major loss suffered by the BJP lately. The first was the exit of Karnakata leader B. S, Yeddyurappa as a result of which the government is living on borrowed time.

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