Soren stakes claim, Koda supports him (Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Aug 25 (IANS) Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren Monday formally staked claim to forming the next government in Jharkhand even as outgoing chief minister Madhu Koda finally softened his stance and expressed support for him.Soren met Governor Syed Sibte Razi and presented a letter of support of 42 legislators.

He was accompanied by Koda, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, central minister and Congress MP Subodh Kant Sahay and independent legislators to the governor house.

“I have submitted a list of 42 legislators to the governor. The numbers would further go up,” Soren told reporters.

His letter names nine legislators of the Congress, seven of Lalu Prasdad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and eight independents, apart from JMM’s 17 legislators.

Koda, who was forced to step down Saturday to make space for Soren, took a U-turn and extended his support to the JMM chief after a meeting with him and Lalu Prasad in the afternoon.

“I have extended support to Shibu Soren. No one is above UPA (United Progressive Alliance),” Koda told reporters.

However, asked about joining the next government, he said: “I have not decided about it.”

The Koda government was reduced to minority after JMM withdrew support to it Aug 17. Koda stepped down following advice from the central UPA leadership.

While the Congress and the RJD had announced their support to Soren, he managed to win over eight independents including Koda one after the other.

On Monday Stephen Marandi, deputy chief minister in the Koda government, also announced his support to Soren.

JMM supporters celebrated after Guruji, as they call Soren, met the governor. They distributed sweets and burst fire crackers.

Soren, who was chief minister of the state for 10 days in March 2005, had long dreamt of returning to the post. He got an opportunity when his party supported the Manmohan Singh government in the crucial trust vote of July 22.

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