State chief by Feb. 20

Ranchi, Feb. 8: The BJP national general secretary and Jharkhand in-charge, Dharmendra Pradhan, arrived in Ranchi today to gauge the mood of a divided leadership over the appointment of a state party president.

Pradhan convened an hour-long meeting of the core committee this afternoon. The general secretary dropped hints that the party chief would be named by February 20.

The meeting, however, was marked by the glaring absence of former party chief Raghubar Das. Das told The Telegraph he skipped the meeting due to personal reasons.

In an official statement earlier, the party said Pradhan was scheduled to hold a meeting of the core committee to discuss the emerging political scenario in the state in the wake of President's Rule after the fall of the Arjun Munda-led coalition in January.

Party insiders confided that Pradhan is scheduled to hold one-to-one meeting with top leaders during his two-day stay to draw consensus over the state unit president's post.

The scramble for the top job has resulted in a faction-ridden BJP.

Former chief Das, who returned on Wednesday after a weeklong visit to Delhi and Nagpur to lobby his prospects, is opposed to former chief minister Arjun Munda.

His grouse is that Munda has been trying to gain one-upmanship in the party by projecting himself for the state president's post or any of his confidants in the worst case.

Today's meeting was attended by 11 members including Munda, Yashwant Sinha and state president Dineshanand Goswami.


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