Ranchi, Jan. 8: Arjun Munda handed over his resignation to governor Syed Ahmed today and recommended dissolution of the Assembly, hours after Shibu Soren led JMM MLAs to Raj Bhavan and conveyed their decision to withdraw support to the BJP-led coalition.
Ahmed, who asked Munda to continue as caretaker chief minister, did not indicate when, or if at all, he would go by the recommendation to dissolve the House, thereby paving the way for fresh elections in the politically turbulent state.
But both the JMM and the Congress questioned Munda's right to offer such "recommendations" at a time when his government had been reduced to a minority.
All eyes are now, therefore, on Raj Bhavan. Indications are that Syed will not take a decision in a hurry. "The governor will take appropriate action on time as per constitutional provisions," said his principal secretary, Aditya Swaroop.
"I have run the government with stability for the last two years," Munda told a group of journalists near Raj Bhavan. "Dissolution of the House and seeking a fresh mandate is the alternative at present."
Earlier, the JMM approached Raj Bhavan at 9.15am, seeking an appointment with the governor. The time was fixed for 10.30am. Munda's cabinet meeting, too, began around the same time.
JMM chief Shibu Soren, accompanied by senior party leaders, handed over the letter of withdrawal of support to the Governor at 10.45am. "The legislators felt that going ahead with the coalition government was against the interests of the party. Hence the party is withdrawing support," the letter said.
JMM leaders claimed a minority government could not recommend dissolution of the House. "As the JMM had decided yesterday itself that it would not continue to support Munda, the government was automatically reduced to a minority. A minority cabinet cannot take such major policy decisions," argued JMM central committee member Supriyo Bhattacharya.
Munda, on the other hand, said the decision to recommend dissolution of the Assembly was taken at a Cabinet meeting held in the morning to prevent horse-trading.
"Seven ministers had participated in today's cabinet meeting. The quorum was complete. Further, JMM representatives in my council of ministers had not given me their resignation letters. Hence, the governor should approve our cabinet decision to dissolve the Vidhan Sabha," he argued.
Among the BJP's allies, only Ajsu seemed to be in favour of fresh elections immediately. The JMM's opposition to dissolving the House was based on its inclination to explore an alternative with the Congress.
State Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu seemed to be on board, too. He said while his party was opposed to President's Rule, it was ready to "carefully consider" any JMM proposal to form an alternative government.
But, JVM supremo Babulal Marandi maintained that the Assembly be dissolved immediately to eliminate possibilities of horse-trading.
nOn Page 6
JMM stands exposed, says Yashwant
Drama ends at governor's door
Munda vows to be back
Marandi against coalition govt
'Small issues became big'