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Where is JMM chief Shibu Soren?

July 17, 2008 21:00 IST

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Where has Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supremo Shibu Soren disappeared?

Popularly known as 'Guruji' in Jharkhand, the 64-year old tribal leader is giving anxious moments to the United Progressive Alliance government, as the stand of its five Lok Sabha members on the trust vote is still a closely guarded secret.

The day began with Congress leaders trying to establish contact with Soren and seek his party's support for the July 22 vote.

The JMM leader arrived in the capital late on Wednesday night from Kolkata and went into hiding -- keeping Congress managers on tenterhooks throughout the day.

With stalwarts of the Congress throwing up their hands in failing to trace Soren, who nurses a grievance that he has not been re-inducted into the Union Cabinet, the job was handed over to Mabel Rebello -- a little known party Member of Parliament, elected to Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand.

MPs belonging to the Jharkhand outfit are among over 20 Lok Sabha members who hold the key to the fate of the government during Tuesday's confidence vote.

The JMM is said to be involved in a hard bargain with the UPA for giving its support and has given enough indications that Soren should get back his Coal Ministry in return for his party's support.

The JMM parliamentary party is likely to meet in New Delhi or in Ranchi on July 19 to finalise their strategy.

Sources said some Jharkhand leaders belonging to UPA parties met at an undisclosed place in New Delhi to chalk out their strategy and exert more pressure on the UPA for re-induction of Soren in the Union Cabinet, after he was acquitted in a murder case.

Party sources also said that the JMM parliamentary party might even split if Soren was accommodated in the government as a couple of party MPs too were eyeing ministerial berths.

Incidentally, Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is in the capital but he could not be contacted.

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