J'khand CM Munda faces floor test tomorrow

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Ranchi, Sep 13: Crisis managers of ruling NDA and Opposition UPA were busy keeping their flocks together on the eve of the crucial extended monsoon session in Jharkhand when Chief Minister Arjun Munda faces a confidence motion.

Party managers who rushed in here have been assigned the daunting task of keeping their concerned flocks together till the show gets over.

Mr Arjun Munda's government was reduced to a minority on September five when four ministers--Mr Kamlesh Singh(NCP), Mr Harinarain Rai, Mr Madhu Koda and Mr Anos Ekka(All Independents)-- resigned from the BJP-led NDA government.

The UPA's camp, comprising apparently 43 so far in a House of 82, is expected to arrive here tonight from New Delhi by a chartered plane.

Reports from New Delhi today said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad (RJD) paraded 37 MLAs at a press conference there claiming that the remaining six legislators would turn up at the Assembly to give a 'crushing defeat' to Mr Munda.

The UPA MLAs were likely to be escorted back here by Mr Prasad, besides, Ms Noor Banu, Ms Mebel Rebello and Mr Oscar Fernandes (all Congress).

On the NDA front, hectic parleys were on at the BJP office and at the chief minister's residence till late last night to draw out strategies for tomorrow's trial of strength.

The BJP-led NDA dispensation, now reduced to a minority following the resignations, stood at 39, including the Speaker.

According to political analysts, Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari's vote would be crucial for the NDA in the event of a tie tomorrow. Meanwhile, amid claims and counter claims by both sides, the much-hyped hearing of the three legislators, served with defection notices, began at the Speaker's office here at 1000 hours today. The MLAs--Anos Ekka, Kamlesh Singh and Stephen Marandi (in the UPA kitty now) were asked to explain to the speaker why their membership in the House should not be quashed.

Specualtions were rife about two of the trio almost certain to lose membership, that is, their inabiliy to take part in the session.

Besides, in the big game of politicking, the NDA was reportedly trying to make at least two members from the UPA abstain from the House which would reduce the Opposition's strength--making their tally at per with that of the NDA.

In that case, the Speaker would be required to cast his vote to make the NDA wriggle out of the crisis.

According to political sources, the NDA is understood to have been trying to rope in expelled Forward Bloc MLA Bhanu Pratap Sahi and Ms Joba Majhi(UGDP).'' It was trying to make them abstain, the sources said adding efforts were on to explore ways to cause damage in the Opposition den. Reports suggested that Ms Majhi was sheltered in Kolkata for the time being.

On the other hand, the UPA was active in making use of some BJP MLAs loyal to Mr Babulal Marandi, a BJP deserter.

Yesterday, BJP national vice-president Venkaiah Naidu arrived here and on a day's tour to ensure that the NDA flock remained united.

Today, Ms Sumitra Mahajan, party in-charge of Jharkhand, is scheduled to arrive here to give the 'finishing touches' to the NDA's game plan.

The NDA comprises BJP (30), JD-U (6) including the Speaker, AJSU (2) and nominated (1).

The UPA consists of JMM (17), Cong (9), RJD (7), UGDP (2), Forward Bloc (2), including the expelled MLA from the party, CPI-ML (1), Ind (1) and four rebel ministers from the NDA whose resignations were accepted yesterday.

The rebels resigned on September five following which Governor Syed Sibtey Razi asked Mr Munda to prove majority by September 15.


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