Political crisis in Jharkhand deepened as Chief Minister Arjun Munda on Tuesday submitted his resignation to Governor Syed Ahmed after Shibu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) formally withdrew support from the government.
Confirming the news, Munda told media: "I have submitted my resignation to the Governor."
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Jharkhand earlier in the day convened a cabinet meeting and recommended the dissolution of the state Assembly, reports said.
JMM's five ministers were not present at the meeting.
The JMM on Monday withdrew its support from the government over differences in connection to the rotation policy of the chief ministerial post.
Soren on Tuesday met the Governor to formally withdraw support and said they will try to form a new government in the state.
The JMM's decision to withdraw support had reduced Munda-led BJP government to a minority one.
The relationship between the BJP and the JMM had been deteriorating after Munda in his written reply to the JMM on Jan 3, negated any rotation policy deal between the two parties to share power after 28 months in office.
Soren had earlier warned the BJP that the party would quit the coalition government if the chief minister's post was not handed over to the JMM as a part of the agreement, reports said.
The JMM and the BJP have 18 MLAs each in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, where the majority mark is 42.
Six Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) members and two Janata Dal-United (JD-U) members also supported the coalition government.
Jharkhand appears headed for brief spell of President's rule
Jharkhand appears headed for a brief spell of President's rule after Munda resigned on Tuesday and recommended dissolution of the assembly and Congress showed no hurry to support formation of an alternative government.
The decision of the BJP-led government to seek dissolution of the assembly and the Chief Minister's resignation left the situation wide open for Governor Syed Ahmed to decide the future course of action. He was said to be consulting constitutional experts.
BJP's ruling coalition partner JMM, in a letter to the Governor, formally withdrew its support to the 28-month-old government pushing it into a minority.
Munda, on the other hand, met the Governor and resigned.
Later, he told reporters that "I have submitted the cabinet's decision recommending to the Governor dissolution of the House along with my resignation".
His cabinet colleagues Gopal Krishna Patar of JD(U), Chandraprakash Choudhary of AJSU and several BJP MLAs were present when Munda submitted the letter at Raj Bhavan at 11.45 AM.
The Governor, he said, would decide on the recommendation for dissolution of the House.
"I have run the government with stability for the last two years. Dissolution of the House and seeking a fresh mandate is the alternative presently," he said.
The decision on recommending dissolution of the House was taken at a cabinet meeting held this morning to prevent any 'horse trading-like situation', Munda told PTI before going to the Raj Bhavan.
"Seven ministers (of the coalition government) were present in the cabinet meeting and it was decided to recommend dissolution of the state Assembly," he said.
No JMM member was present at the meeting.
The decision, he said, was taken as no national party had openly come forward to provide an alternative government in the wake of the JMMs announcement to pull out of the government.
Jharkhand has witnessed fast-paced political developments after BJP rejected all demands of JMM including handing over of power as per an 'accord' on rotational leadership of the coalition.
Fresh polls only way to provide stable govt in Jharkhand: BJP
BJP on Tuesday said fresh elections are the only way out to provide a stable government in Jharkhand after Chief Minister Arjun Munda submitted his resignation and advised the Governor to dissolve the Assembly in the wake of JMM announcing withdrawal of support.
BJP central leaders were of the view that since the Chief Minister had submitted his resignation letter and suggested to Governor Syed Ahmed for dissolution of the Assembly before JMM leader Shibu Soren gave the withdrawal of support, Munda's advice should be followed and fresh elections held.
"The only way out in Jharkhand political imbroglio is to dissolve the Assembly and conduct fresh elections. Munda has already recommended the dissolution of the assembly as no party enjoys a clear majority and a fresh election is the only alternative," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.
The party categorically denied that there was any agreement with JMM on each party ruling for 28 months. It said there was "no truth" in reports that JMM was to take over the government with BJP becoming a junior partner from January 10 but Munda did not agree to this.
Javadekar maintained that the people of Jharkhand deserved a stable government and, hence, polls should be held.
"The last elections had thrown up a hung Assembly due to which there was no stability. We gave a good government under Arjun Munda. But now his Cabinet has given the right suggestion to the Governor that the Assembly should be dissolved and elections held to take the state on the path of progress," he said.
BJP said that this is not the time for President's Rule or keeping the Assembly in suspended animation.
Congress appears in no hurry to form govt in Jharkhand
Congress appears to be in no hurry to put together a new government in Jharkhand after the fall of Arjun Munda-led BJP ministry and could prefer a brief spell of President's rule in the state.
Sibu Soren-led JMM, which withdrew support from Munda-led BJP government, is learnt to have approached some leaders in Congress to explore formation of a new government in the state but the latter is learnt to be in favour of being cautious.
Congress' caution stems from the fact that it had burnt its fingers by supporting independent Madhu Koda-led government in the past as it had to face public criticism for the irregularities that happened in Koda administration, party sources said.
Pressure is also mounting on Congress high command from state party leaders with at least eight MLAs arriving in the national capital to nudge the senior leaders to agree to a new political option.
"JMM is approaching Congress. If they want to talk, why can't we. They are our allies at the Centre. They had voted with us twice in Parliament. The state unit of Congress is not in favour of President Rule or the dissolution of Assembly.
We have apprised the AICC in-charge of Jharkhand of our views. Now a decision has to be taken by the central leadership. We will accept whatever they decide," CLP leader of the state Rajinder Prasad Singh told PTI.
However, Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said "the state unit of Congress has not taken any decision. No political decision has been taken either by the state unit or by the central leaders on the issue".
Congress is likely to use a brief spell of President's Rule to prod JMM to come to some "reasonable agreement" with it.
Though Chacko refused to go into specifics of the options before Congress saying they are "premature" at this time, he dismissed Munda's recommendation for the dissolution of the House saying the recommendation of a "minority government" is not binding on Governor as per the precedence in past.
Congress should abide by its word to JMM: RJD
The RJD on Tuesday reminded the Congress to stand by its word to the JMM and take initiative to form an alternative government in Jharkhand.
"Congress leaders have been giving statements that they would move forward only when JMM withdraws support to the BJP-led government. Now that the JMM had done it, it's the Congress which should keep its word," the five-member RJD Jharkhand Legislature Party Leader Annapurna Devi said here.
On the statements of both BJP and JMM that their moves were legitimate, Devi said, "It's up to Governor Syed Ahmed to take the final call."
The JMM has claimed that the Arjun Munda Cabinet's decision to recommend dissolution of the House today did not stand as the party had yesterday faxed its decision to withdraw support to the BJP-led government to Raj Bhavan.
The BJP, on the other hand, said physical appearance before the governor was required to lend credibility on the withdrawal of support.
JMM leaders to meet Congress leaders in Delhi
Senior JMM leaders would meet Congress leaders in Delhi to discuss formation of a new government in Jharkhand, a party leader said on Tuesday.
"Our leaders Hemant Soren, Mathura Mahato, Champai Soren, Haji Hussain Ansari and Simon Marandi will go to Delhi to hold talks with Congress leaders for formation of an alternative government," JMM General Secretary Shashank Sekhar Bhokta told PTI.
"Congress leaders in the state have given indication and we are hopeful that the national party will protect democratic values," Bhokta, a member of the JMM Core Committee, said.
He claimed that Independent MLA Chamra Linda and the lone Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch MLA met party chief Shibu Soren and assured support in the event of an alternative government.
Linda earlier supported the Arjun Munda government.