Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda on Tuesday resigned and recommended the dissolution of the 82-member assembly, leaving the situation wide open for the governor to decide the future course of action.
Earlier in the day, coalition partner Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, in a letter to Governor Syed Ahmed, formally withdrew its support to the 28-month-old government, pushing it into a minority.
"I have submitted the Cabinet's decision recommending the governor to dissolve the House along with my resignation," Munda told reporters after handing over the letter to Ahmed.
His cabinet colleagues Gopal Krishna Patar of the Janata Dal United, Chandraprakash Choudhary of All Jharkhand Students Union and several Bharatiya Janata Party Members of Legislative Assembly were present when Munda submitted the letter at Raj Bhavan at 11.45 am.
The governor, he said, would decide on the recommendation for dissolution of the House.
"I have run the government with stability for the last two years. Dissolution of the House and seeking a fresh mandate is the alternative presently," he said.
The decision on recommending dissolution of the House was taken at a Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday morning to prevent any 'horse trading-like situation', Munda said.
"Seven ministers (of the coalition government) were present in the Cabinet meeting and it was decided to recommend dissolution of the state assembly," he said.
No JMM member was present at the meeting.
The decision, he said, was taken as no national party had openly come forward to provide an alternative government in the wake of the JMM's announcement to pull out of the government.
Jharkhand has witnessed fast paced political developments after the BJP rejected all demands by the JMM, including handing over of power, as per an accord on the rotational leadership of the coalition.
JMM leader and Deputy Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who submitted to the governor the letter withdrawing support to the Munda government, said the Cabinet recommendation on dissolution of the House 'did not stand' as the party had announced its decision to pull out on Monday.
JMM, he said, had faxed a letter to Raj Bhavan informing the governor of its decision even before the Cabinet met on Tuesday morning.
"We have submitted the letter to the governor and informed him that JMM's withdrawal of support has reduced the government into a minority," Soren told newsmen after submitting the letter.
He was accompanied by his father JMM supremo Shibu Soren and other party leaders to Raj Bhavan.
Reacting to it, Munda said, "Such letters are not faxed. One should physically submit them to the governor."
The Congress, however, said in Delhi that the Jharkhand Cabinet's decision recommending dissolution of the assembly was "not binding" on the governor as it was done by the Munda government after being reduced to a "minority".
"It is not binding on the governor to accept the recommendation of a minority government. It was crystal clear that the BJP-led government had been reduced to a minority after withdrawal of support by the JMM," senior leader Shakeel Ahmed said.
In the 82-member state assembly, BJP and JMM have 18 members each. The Munda government had the support of six members of All Jharkhand Students' Union, two of JD U, two independents and one nominated member, who has voting right in a trial of strength.
Opposition Congress has a total of 13 members, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha has 11 and Rashtriya Janata Dal has five members in the assembly. Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation Marxist Coordination Party, Jharkhand Party-Ekka - Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch and Jai Bharat Samta Party have one member each, besides an independent.