Backed by Independents Koda says he would not bow down to pressure

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Ranchi, Aug 24 (UNI) Outgoing Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda today asserted that seven Independent MLAs, including himself, stood united, posing a challenge to JMM president Shibu Soren.

Mr Soren's chance of becoming the new Chief Minister mainly depended on the Independents, despite support from RJD and Congress.

''Hum saat saath hain (we the seven walk hand in hand),'' Mr Koda said after a meeting of the Independents at former Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi's residence here.

About future of the JMM president, Mr Koda said, ''The winds of politics change frequently but guruji's desperate bid to replace me, creating instability, was not justifiable. If guruji keeps doing this then he would be in deep trouble in future''.

Asked about how Mr Soren would prove majority, Mr Koda said it was the ''headache'' of the person who staked claim.

Mr Koda, along with five other Independents, yesterday resigned following the UPA government being reduced to a minority after the JMM, with 17 MLAs, withdrew support on August 17.

Adding strength to Mr Koda's camp, Mr Anos Ekka attended the meeting this morning.

Mr Ekka, being dubbed as a ''vulnerable point'', was out of the state capital yesterday, leading to speculation about his shifting allegiance to the Soren camp.

Later, Mr Koda hosted a lunch at his official residence, what he termed as a ''gesture of gratitude'' to all the staff of the CM's secretariat and residence, who worked with him day and night for the past two years.

Mr Koda said he was talking to RJD president Lalu Prasad and would continue to talk to all UPA leaders but made it clear that the final decision would be taken by him only.

''The UPA made me Chief Minister and I worked with them for two years. I am Independent now and will take decisons independently,'' Mr Koda said.

He also ruled out his plan to move to politics at the Centre immediately, saying he had not received any proposal from any quarter so far.

''I believe in work and that earned me love of people for which I win elections as Independent,'' he said, adding that he did not regret that he left BJP two years back.

He said he was happy that municipal election could be held for the first time in Jharkhand but felt sorry that many works could not be finished.

UNI PRS-AM DPM RP AS1638

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