The arrest of three Congress MLAs with cash in Kolkata, just over a week after nine of its MLAs were suspected to have cross-voted in the presidential election, has raised questions regarding the stability of the Hemant Soren-led JMM-Congress-RJD coalition that has 47 legislators in a House of 81.
Since it was carved out on November 15, 2000, from Bihar, Jharkhand has seen six chief ministers and three stints of presidential rule. Only one CM, Raghubar Das, has managed to complete his full term (2014 to 2019).
Coalition governments, allegations of horse trading, and trust votes are far from new to the political landscape of the state. A look:
* Babulal Marandi (BJP); November 15, 2000, to March 17, 2003
The first ruling alliance of the state was formed on the basis of the Bihar legislative election of 2000. It included the BJP, Samata Party, JD(U) and Independents, with a total strength of 45 in the 81-member House.
Following growing discontent within the BJP, seven MLAs voted against a money Bill tabled in the Assembly by the Industry Ministry in 2003. Seeking the resignation of Marandi as CM, the MLAs tried to stake claim to form the government with the help of parties such as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress, RJD and CPI. Before the trust vote could take place, Marandi resigned on March 17.
*Arjun Munda (BJP); March 18, 2003, to March 2, 2005
A day later, the BJP decided to appoint Welfare Minister Arjun Munda as the new BJP Legislature Party leader. Munda staked claim to form the government after 43 legislators supported him, including the seven rebel MLAs.
*Shibu Soren (JMM); March 2, 2005 to March 12, 2005
This was Jharkhand’s first election as a separate state. The BJP and JD(U), as the NDA, won 36 seats, while the Congress-JMM alliance got 26. The RJD won seven, and others got 12 seats. With the House strength at 81, this meant no group reached the half-way mark of 41.
Governor Syed Sibtey Razi eventually invited JMM chief Shibu Soren to form the government on March 2, 2005 and he was asked to prove his majority by March 21.
* Arjun Munda (BJP); March 12, 2005, to September 14, 2006
Protests followed the Governor’s decision, and after 10 days, Arjun Munda was sworn in as CM, after he managed to gather the support of 43 MLAs. But, just a year later, five MLAs switched sides, leaving 43 with the UPA now and reducing the NDA to 39.
*Madhu Koda (Independent); September 14, 2006, to August 23, 2008
The state saw a trust vote and, for the first time, an Independent, Madhu Koda, became the CM with the support of 41 legislators. The NDA did not participate in the trust vote. Just about two years later, the JMM withdrew support to the government, leading to its collapse.
* Shibu Soren; August 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009
Subsequently, Shibu Soren was sworn in as the sixth CM of Jharkhand. He was then a Lok Sabha member. As per constitutional requirements, he had to become an MLA within six months.
* President’s rule; January 19, 2009, to December 29, 2009
In his election bid, from the Tamar Assembly seat, Soren lost. The state was put under President’s rule for almost a year.
* Shibu Soren; December 30, 2009, to May 31, 2010
Soren came back to the CM seat when the JMM formed the government, this time with support of the BJP and All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU). It had 42 MLAs — 18 each from the JMM and BJP, five from the AJSU, and one from Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch.
*President’s rule; June 1, 2010, to September 11, 2010
For the second time in two years, President’s rule was imposed when the BJP and JD(U) withdrew support, reducing the Soren government to a minority.
* Arjun Munda; September 11, 2010, to January 18, 2013
Again, the BJP, JMM and AJSU, along with the JD(U), formed the government, ending President’s rule. Munda became CM for the third time as part of this arrangement and won a bypoll from the Kharsawan seat.
But issues cropped up, especially with regards to rotational leadership. The JMM withdrew support, reducing the government to a minority, and Munda resigned. The Assembly was dissolved.
* President’s rule; January 18, 2013, to July 12, 2013
The Union Cabinet recommended imposition of President’s rule, Jharkhand’s third in 12 years of its formation, while keeping the 81-member Assembly in suspended animation.
* Hemant Soren (JMM); July 13, 2013, to December 28, 2014
Around six months after President’s rule was imposed, Shibu Soren’s son Hemant staked claim to form the government in alliance with the Congress, RJD, smaller parties and Independent MLAs. He won the trust vote, with 43 MLAs supporting him.
* Raghubar Das (BJP); December 28, 2014, to December 29, 2019
The 2014 Assembly elections saw the BJP emerging as the single largest party, with 37 seats; its ally AJSU won five. The JMM secured 19 seats, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) won eight, and the Congress six. Das became the first non-tribal CM of the state, and would last out his term.
* Hemant Soren (JMM); 2019 to Present
Hemant became the CM again at the head of a JMM-Congress-RJD alliance, with 47 seats. The JMM won 30 seats, and the Congress and RJD 16 and one, respectively. Later, three from the JVM (Prajatantrik) and one from the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) also extended their support to the three-party coalition. The BJP secured 25 seats. Others, including Independents, secured 10 seats.