Is the Jharkhand Cong next target of Operation Kamal?

Ranchi (IANS) Is Jharkhand the next target of "Operation Kamal" after Maharashtra? As per the possibilities and discussions, the Congress in Jharkhand may face the tough task of maintaining its rapport with the JMM and keeping all its 18 MLAs united. The Congress is the second major partner in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led government in the state.

The Congress is wary after the recent meeting between Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. It is said that Hemant Soren met Amit Shah before deciding the stand of his party in the Presidential election. On the same day, he also met senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. In general, the JMM is a party in the UPA folder.

But Soren has reportedly made up his mind to support the NDA's candidate Draupadi Murmu. This is because Murmu has been projected as the first tribal woman candidate for the presidency, and an anti-tribal narrative can easily be set if the JMM votes against her.

The tribal factor is at the core of JMM's politics and it does not want anything to affect it. The JMM has not yet officially disclosed its stand, but it is certain that its possible decision to vote in favour of the NDA candidate will increase its distance from the Congress.

Hemant Soren's meeting with Amit Shah lasted for about an hour. No one is aware of the issues discussed between the two, but many possibilities are being discussed in political circles. The main thing is that six days have passed since this meeting, and the bitter rhetoric between the senior leaders of the JMM and the BJP has stopped since then.

Prior to this, for the last few months, there was a series of serious allegations and counter-allegations by Hemant Soren and the leaders of his party and the BJP. Soren attended about half a dozen public functions in the last three days and also addressed many public meetings, but he did not say a word against the central government or the BJP in his speeches. Earlier in his speeches, he did not let go any opportunity to attack the BJP.

In such a situation, it seems that a new relationship is beginning between the NDA and the JMM. If this relationship progresses, then there will be a crisis in the Congress-JMM partnership. There is talk that this can be part of the strategy of "Operation Kamal" in Jharkhand.

There have been friendly relations between the BJP and the JMM in Jharkhand in the past as well. Between 2009 and 2012, the government was formed in the state with the partnership of both the parties. During this, JMM supremo Shibu Soren and BJP's Arjun Munda became the Chief Ministers for the second time. Hemant Soren became the Deputy Chief Minister in the Munda-led government.

Harinarayan Singh, editor of a daily newspaper published from Ranchi, says that politics is a game of possibilities. In Jharkhand too, there will be no surprise if the power equation changes in the future.

The current government of the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has been running the state for the last two and a half years, but during this time differences have cropped up. For example, the question of the 12th minister in the state has led to a tussle between the Congress and the JMM several times. The strength of the ruling coalition in the 82-member Jharkhand Assembly is 49. Of these, the JMM has 30 MLAs, the Congress 18 and the RJD one. The state currently has an 11-member cabinet. In this, there are six including Chief Minister Soren from the JMM quota, four from the Congress and one from the RJD.

According to the official rules, there can be 12 ministers in the state cabinet, but Chief Minister Hemant Soren has kept one berth vacant from the beginning. The Congress sometimes stakes claim to the 12th minister's berth, but the JMM rejects its claim, saying it is the chief minister's prerogative. JMM general secretary and central spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya says that no one except the CM has the right to decide who should be given a place in the cabinet. If the decision to name the 12th minister is taken, then the claim of the JMM is stronger than that of the Congress.

On the other hand, Jharkhand Pradesh Congress President Rajesh Thakur says that his party has a claim to the post of the 12th minister, but it will discuss any such claim within the alliance. The top leadership of the party is capable of taking appropriate decisions on such issues.

Within the coalition, the challenge before the Congress from the beginning was how to best serve the interests of the party, but in these two and a half years it has never been seen in a very effective role within the government. The JMM's stand was adopted in most of the important decisions taken by the government.

Despite strong objections from the Congress on issues like a linguistic policy for competitive examinations, reservation policy for local people, the government took decisions according to the equations of the JMM. Many leaders including Congress minister Banna Gupta, Congress MLA Deepika Pandey Singh, Mamta Devi, Irfan Ansari, Pradeep Yadav have been openly expressing their displeasure over the decisions and stand of the government.

During the elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats from the state held in the same month, there were differences between the JMM and the Congress. The Congress had staked its claim for the Rajya Sabha seat from the beginning. Hemant Soren had a meeting with top Congress leaders in Delhi on this issue, but later he returned to Ranchi and fielded his party's candidate. On this, all the leaders of the party, including Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey, initially expressed displeasure, but later their stance softened. The Congress, which had unofficially boycotted the nomination of JMM candidate Mahua Maji, joined the celebration of the JMM candidate's victory two days later.

A senior Congress leader, on anonymity, says that the Congress is not in a position to take the risk of relinquishing power in Jharkhand. If this happens, there is a risk of losing the party legislators.
 

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