Senior BJP leader L K Advani will skip the swearing-in ceremony of Arjun Munda as Chief Minister of Jharkhand on Saturday amidst reports that he was unhappy over the formation of the government with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
Advani was against BJP forming a coalition government with JMM as he was unhappy with the past experience of the party with the Shibu Soren-led outfit. President's Rule was imposed in Jharkhand on June 1 with the Assembly being put under suspended animation after BJP withdrew support to the Soren-led government when the latter voted with the United Progressive Alliance during cut motions in Parliament.
Once decks were cleared for government formation with JMM, Advani had favoured the baton being handed over to BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who, he believed, could bring a "qualitative difference" to the issue of governance in Jharkhand, thanks to his past experience as Union Minister for Finance and External Affairs.
Though, officially, BJP leaders have attributed Advani's decision to not attend the function to two major festivals -- Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi -- falling on the same day, party sources said the veteran leader has decided to skip the event as he is miffed with the developments in the tribal state.
"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 here when asked if the stalwart leader would go to Jharkhand. He refused to reply to queries if the issue of choosing Munda as the chief minister had created divisions within the party.
Central rule was revoked in the state yesterday enabling Governor M O H Farooq to invite Munda to form the government.
42-year-old Munda will take over the reins of Jharkand for the third time when he is sworn in as chief minister to head the eighth government in 10 years and leaders of two alliance parties are also expected to take oath along with him. The two parties have 18 MLAs each and support of 27 other MLAs in the 81-member house.
The BJP and the JMM formed a coalition government on December 30 last year under JMM chief Sibu Soren. But it lasted for only five months. Among the BJP leaders who are certain to attend Munda's swearing-in ceremony are former party president Rajnath Singh and BJP chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad. Uttrakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' will also be present on the occasion.