Final decision on Aug 17; Shibu Soren

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Ranchi, Aug 13 (UNI) Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president Shibu Soren, who yesterday staked claim to the Chief Ministership, tonight made it clear that his party's final stand on the matter would be taken on August 17.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Madhu Koda also stuck to his ground, ruling out any threat to his government. Adding to his strength, the Independent MLAs also showed solidarity with Mr Koda.

Mr Soren this evening returned from New Delhi and said, '' It is required to take the final decision...and the time has come. '' ''If required we will go to the people, '' Mr Soren said indicating the party's readiness even for an early election.

Talking to reporters, Mr Soren parried almost all queries, saying on August 17 the party's MPs and MLAs would take a final decision.

Asked if he would withdraw support to the Madhu Koda government, he said, ''I have said what I had to say...will not utter a single word about my strategy before the schedule. '' Regarding Chief Minister Madhu Koda, he said, '' The UPA made him so under certain compulsions...even the Congress was not happy with Mr Koda's performance and it was evident from party leader Ajay Maken's strong stand taken against the CM few months back. '' Eyeing the CM's post for quite some time now, Mr Soren yesterday came out publicly, asserting that Mr Koda should quit soon to facilitate him to take over.

He also threatened to withdraw support to the Koda government if the Chief Minister did not resign.

However, Mr Koda asserted he did not receive any instruction from the UPA leadership to resign.

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

Mr Koda at present has 43 MLAs, including JMM (17), Cong (7), RJD (9), UGDP (2), NCP (1) and some Independents.

UNI PRS SJC SP GC2140

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