Ramesh remark stirs JMM-Cong pot

Ranchi, Jan. 25: JMM's Hemant Soren today called on Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and earned a tag of "old friend" from the latter, which immediately triggered speculations about possibilities of the regional party trying to join hands with Congress in another attempt to cobble up a coalition government.

Soon after President's Rule was clamped in Jharkhand on January 18, Congress leaders have regularly been meeting the governor to suggest effective ways and means for good governance, prompting the BJP to decry that Raj Bhavan was dancing to the tune of its rival party.

Hemant met the Union minister this morning at the state guesthouse before boarding a flight to Delhi along with his father Shibu Soren.

What transpired between them during the closed-door meeting is not known. Ramesh only said that Hemant was his "old friend".

"I am not interested in grabbing an important position in Jharkhand, including the Congress's Jharkhand in-charge. I am contented as a Union minister. I have come here to work for the positive growth of state. Here, all are my friends, be it Hemant Soren, Arjun Munda or Sudesh Mahto. I will be meeting everyone. The state may remain under central rule for sometime. But, as the Assembly remains under suspended animation, possibilities of formation of a coalition government cannot be ruled out," he commented.

Hemant could not be contacted. But JMM central committee member Supriyo Bhattacharya said his party assured Ramesh that it completely supported his endeavours for development of Jharkhand.

"This was the party's agenda. If Hemant and Ramesh discussed anything beyond it, we have no idea," he added.

Replying to another question, he said Hemant had gone to Delhi for his father's medical check-up. If needed, they may also head for Apollo hospital in Chennai.

He added that the JMM was always ready to talk to the Congress to form an alternative government, but the latter appeared to be in two minds.

"We will wait and watch," Bhattacharya added.

BJP state president Dineshanand Goswami refused comment on Hemant's meeting with Ramesh.

He said, "After meeting the governor yesterday, Congress leaders declared that the governor will be making certain important announcements in his Republic Day address and also opt for spot inspections on road to take stock of ground realities. Raj Bhavan should clarify whether the governor's official programmes are being finalised by the Congress."

Congress state president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, on the other hand, opined that the BJP was free to spew venom against them, but should learn to respect the august office of the governor.

He alleged that BJP's remarks went against the spirit of the Constitution.

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