Soren quits as chief minister, wants nominee to succeed him (Lead)

January 12th, 2009 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Jan 12 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren resigned Monday following his defeat in the Tamar assembly by-election he needed to win to stay in the post and said his party would press for fresh elections if his nominee was not appointed in his place.The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief, who met Governor Syed Sibte Razi around noon to hand over his resignation, said his party had chosen Champai Soren for chief minister.

Minutes before, Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi, an independent legislator, also quit to protest the delay in Soren’s resignation.

“I quit to respect the people’s verdict. I am a responsible citizen of the country,” Soren told reporters after meeting the governor.

“The JMM has chosen Champai Soren as the leader of the party to be anointed as next chief minister. If that does not happen, we will prefer to face elections.”

The fact that there is no consensus in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the issue did not worry him. “We stick to our stand,” he said.

The UPA is divided over appointing Champai Soren chief minister. While the JMM and a group of independents back him, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and another group of independents support former chief chief minister Madhu Koda — also an independent legislator.

The Congress, which was not happy with the functioning of the Koda government, hasn’t made its stance known yet. According to party insiders, central Congress leaders and a section of the state leaders were in favour of president’s rule and fresh elections.

Soren, who became chief minister in August 2008, needed to be elected to the state assembly by Feb 27 under constitutional requirements but lost the Tamar by-election last week.

The defeat plunged Jharkhand into further political uncertainty. The governor has not yet decided whether Soren would remain chief minister until the crisis is resolved. “I will take a decision as per the constitutional provisions,” he told journalists.

In the 82-member Jharkhand assembly, the UPA has 41 seats. Of these, the JMM has 17, the Congress nine, the RJD seven and the rest are either independents or smaller parties.

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