Ranchi/New Delhi: Arjun Munda will be sworn in as Chief Minister of Jharkand on Saturday to head the eighth government in 10 years, but the oath-taking ceremony is likely to be skipped by BJP stalwart L K Advani.
Munda, the 42-year-old tribal leader, will be the chief minister of the mineral-rich state for the third time heading a BJP-JMM-AJSU coalition and leaders of two alliance parties are also expected to take oath along with him. No chief minister has ever completed a term since the state was carved out of Bihar on November 15, 2000.
"The oath-taking at 11:00 am is restricted to two leaders besides Munda as there are too many claimants for ministerial berths," a senior coalition leader, who did not want to be named, told a news agency here today.
The leader mentioned the names of AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto and JMM leader Hemant Soren--son of JMM supremo and former chief minister Shibu Soren. Mahto and Soren are tipped to be deputy chief ministers.
With Governor MOH Farooq having directed Munda to prove his majority in the 81-member assembly within a week after being sworn in, the leader said the Cabinet may be expanded after the floor test, which might take place on September 14. The Union Cabinet yesterday recommended that President`s Rule be revoked in Jharkand enabling the Governor to invite Munda to form the government.
BJP and JMM have 18 MLAs each and support of 27 other legislators in the 81-member House. Munda can have a maximum of 12 ministers in his cabinet including himself.
Though, officially, BJP leaders have attributed Advani`s decision not to attend the function to two major festivals --Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi--tomorrow, party sources said the veteran leader has decided to skip the event as he is miffed with the developments involving the BJP in the state.
Advani was reportedly unhappy with the move by BJP to form a coalition government with JMM keeping in mind the past experience of the party with the Shibu Soren-led outfit.
"Several leaders will attend the swearing-in function, many will not be able to go as there are two festivals on the same day," BJP chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi when asked if Advani would go to Jharkhand.
Prasad refused to reply to queries if the issue of choosing Munda as the chief minister had created divisions within the party. The move to form a government with JMM support was widely seen as an initiative by BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Munda had staked claim on September 7 and the same day the Governor had recommended to the Centre for revocation of President’s Rule.