Independent legislator Madhu Koda on Thursday staked claim to form the government in Jharkhand soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government bowed out of office just before the confidence vote in the assembly.
With defeat staring at his face following the withdrawal of support by four legislators, including Koda, Chief Minister Arjun Munda announced his resignation in the assembly and later put in his papers to the Governor Syed Sibte Razi.
Thirty five-year-old Koda, who belongs to a farming community, was the consensus choice of the United Progressive Alliance to head the alternative dispensation. He met the Governor and submitted a list of 43 legislators in the 81-member House.
Koda, accompanied by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief and Coal Minister Shibu Soren along with a dozen UPA legislators went to the Raj Bhavan to stake claim.
Koda, who along with independent legislators Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai as also Nationalist Congress Party's Kamlesh Singh had withdrawn support to the Munda government, said he presented the Governor with a list of 41 legislators and told him that he also had the support of Forward Bloc legislator Aparna Sen and Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Liberation) legislator Vinod Kumar Singh.
He said the Governor told him that he will examine the list and let him know. The list had the signatures of all but Aparna Sen and Vinod Kumar Singh but Koda said he has assured the Governor that the two will support him. Koda said he told Razi that he will prefer to be sworn in on September 17.
Koda will be the third independent legislators to assume the office of chief minister after Bishwanath Das in Orissa in 1971 and S F Khonglam in Meghalaya in 2002.
Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said the party will support formation of a non-NDA government. However, the party had not yet taken any decision whether to join the new government, he added.
In resigning without facing the floor test, Munda followed his predecessor Shibu Soren who had quit under similar circumstances after heading a short-lived government soon after the 2005 assembly polls, which had thrown up a badly fractured verdict.
Munda's resignation came as it was clear that he had lost majority with 43 legislators sitting on the side of the opposition UPA as against 38 members in treasury benches in the assembly.