Jharkhand cabinet likely to be expanded after trust vote on Monday

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Ranchi: On the eve of the crucial floor test of the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand government on Monday, both the ruling alliance and the opposition held separate meetings to meticulously craft strategies for the special assembly session.

While the JMM, Congress, and RJD legislators exuded confidence in securing a successful outcome in the trust vote, opposition BJP asserted that it wouldn't be easy for the ruling alliance.

Following the trust vote, the Soren cabinet is set to be expanded, an MLA said.

"Floor test and cabinet expansion were discussed during the meeting. After the trust vote, the cabinet will be expanded," Poreyahat MLA Pradeep Yadav told reporters on Sunday.

Yadav, who joined Congress after winning the 2019 assembly polls on a JVM-P ticket, claimed they have sufficient numbers in the House to win the trust vote.

JMM legislator Stephen Marandi said the party has instructed all alliance MLAs to be present in the House and participate in the floor test.

On the other hand, the BJP said it won't be a cake walk for the ruling alliance to clear the floor test.

Talking to reporters after the party's legislature meeting, Leader of Opposition Amar Bauri claimed infighting among the alliance members.

"The party has decided to participate in the floor test on Monday. We request the government to ensure a debate and allow the opposition to speak," he said.

The BJP wants the Chief Minister to explain in the House why it was necessary to form a new government when former CM Champai Soren was already functioning, Bauri added.

"There is infighting within the alliance. Hemant Soren did not dare to expand the cabinet before the floor test, as he knows the situation might not be in his favour," Bauri said.

On July 4, JMM executive president Hemant Soren took oath as the 13th Chief Minister of Jharkhand, a day after the resignation of his predecessor Champai Soren.

Hemant Soren was released from jail on June 28 after the High Court of Jharkhand granted him bail in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam. He had resigned as CM shortly before his arrest on January 31 by the Enforcement Directorate.

After the Lok Sabha elections, the strength of the ruling alliance has been reduced to 45 MLAs – JMM-27, Congress-17, and RJD-1.

Two JMM MLAs, Nalin Soren and Joba Majhi, are now parliamentarians, while Jama legislator Sita Soren resigned to contest the general elections on a BJP ticket.

The JMM expelled two legislators – Bishunpur MLA Chamra Linda and Boriyo MLA Lobin Hembrom – from the party.

Similarly, the BJP's strength in the assembly has reduced to 24, as two of its MLAs – Dhulu Mahto (Baghmara) and Manish Jaiswal (Hazaribag) – are now MPs. The saffron party expelled Mandu MLA Jaiprakash Bhai Patel after he joined Congress to contest the polls.

The current strength of the 81-member Jharkhand assembly is 76.

The ruling alliance had handed over a support list of 44 MLAs to the Governor when Hemant Soren staked his claim to form the government on July 3.