Koda says he will not resign as Soren stakes claim

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Ranchi/New Delhi, Aug 12 (UNI) Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda today ruled out any threat to his position, asserting he had not received any instruction from the UPA leadership to resign hours after Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supremo Shibu Soren staked his claim to the post of Chief Ministership.

''I will not resign,'' Mr Koda said in Ranchi on his return from New Delhi, against the backdrop of the Congress' fresh endorsement of the JMM president's claim.

Eyeing the post for quite some time now, Mr Soren today came out publicly asserting that Mr Koda should quit soon to facilitate him to take over and also threatened to withdraw support to the Koda government if the Chief Minister did not resign.

Mr Soren hosted a breakfast meeting at his residence in Delhi to leaders from Jharkhand which was attended by as many as 13 MPs from the state.

After the meeting, he said the UPA High Command had already directed Mr Koda to resign. ''I will take over as soon as he resigns.'' Mr Koda, till recently, had said he would step down if the situation so demanded but his assertion was significant as senior Congress leader and Minister for food processing Subodh Kant Sahai who also attended the breakfast meeting, said the Congress was opposed to the continuance of Mr Koda whose government had failed to perform in the past one year.

Mr Sahai said the RJD had also expressed its willingness to support Mr Soren."Once Mr Koda resigns, it is for Mr Soren to decide what arrangement he should have next. Our role is limited to extending support." Mr Koda at present has 43 MLAs including - JMM (17), Cong (7), RJD (9), UGDP (2), NCP (1) and some Independents.

Speaking in Ranchi, the Chief Minister termed the JMM president's claim in which he said the UPA High Command had already directed Mr Koda to resign as ''figment of imagination''.

In his reaction, Mr Koda said, ''That is his dream...I've nothing to say...but I have not received any instruction so far''.

Both Congress and RJD, while saying they had no objection to Mr Soren becoming Chief Minister, made it clear that the JMM must muster support to prove majority in the 82-member House.

But many Ministers in the state government were still reluctant to see a change of leadership so soon as they conveyed that while present Chief Minister Madhu Koda was ''fairly'' trying to deliver the goods, he should not be disturbed.

Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi (Independent) said he would oppose any move to topple Mr Koda.

On the other hand the JMM leader firmly denied that the Independent ministers in the state had reservations on his becoming the CM. "There is no objection from any quarter,'' he said adding the party would sit on August 17 to chalk out its next move.

UNI TEAM SP UCS2003

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