Koda resigns; Soren to stake claim after August 25

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Ranchi, Aug 23 (UNI) Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda today resigned without facing the August 25 floor test, but made it clear that Independent MLAs would not back JMM president Shibu Soren, who would stake claim to form the alternative government after August 25.

The JMM with 17 MLAs parted ways with the Koda government on August 17.

The focus again shifted to Raj Bhavan as to how Governor Syed Sibtey Razi would now react to the JMM president's bid to take the state's reins in the wake of Mr Koda and his loyalists' refusal to support ''guruji''.

Mr Soren tonight said he would stake claim to form the alternative government after August 25.

Mr Soren returned from New Delhi this evening when Mr Koda was at Raj Bhavan for tendering his resignation along with five other Ministers (all Independents) to the Governor.

Mr Soren, having the backing of RJD with seven Legislators besides his party strength of 17 in the 81-member House, tried to look unruffled despite Mr Koda's open statement about not extending support of Independents to him, a key to formation of the new government.

A report from New Delhi said the Congress welcomed the resignation of Mr Koda, and said it would support the candidature of the JMM chief but it was for him to ensure the numbers.

''We do not have the required strength in the House of 81, and honouring democracy I was compelled to put in the paper...but there is no question of mine joining the Shibu Soren-led government, '' Mr Koda averred.

Mr Koda was not only the youngest Chief Minister of the country, but also added one more feather to his cap by earning the distinction of the longest serving Chief Minister as an Independent MLA in the country for nearly two years. Two other Independents, who rose to the post, were Dr F A Khonglam from Meghalaya, who was in the saddle for one year, and Mr Biswanath Das from Orissa.

Mr Koda, who took the rein of the state 23 months back, ousting Arjun Munda-led NDA government, this evening went to Raj Bhavan accompanied by five other Independent MLAs (all Ministers) and submitted resignations to the Governor.

Eds: Pls pick up suitably from earlier series.

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