Marandi gives a jolt to BJP

New Delhi, May 17 | Updated: May 18 2006, 05:30am hrs
In a major blow to the BJP in Jharkhand, its national vice-president and former chief minister Babulal Marandi resigned both from the primary membership of the party and his Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday.

The exit of Mr Marandi, who is known to have differences with chief minister Arjun

Munda, raises a big question mark on the survival of the BJP-led state government that is precariously hanging onto power with the support of independent MLAs also.

Mr Marandi commenced his 24-hour fast in Giridih district against the rampant corruption and underdevelopment in the state, after the saffron partys top emissaries failed to placate him.

The party first deputed general secretary (organisation) Sanjay Joshi to talk to him and later asked former finance minister Yashwant Sinha to try to appease Mr Marandi.

Sources in the Lok Sabha secretariat said Mr Marandi, MP from Kodarma, sent his resignation to the Speakers office by fax. In a separate resignation letter to party president Rajnath Singh, Mr Marandi is understood to have resigned from both the primary membership and vice-presidentship.

While speculations are rife on Mr Marandi joining forces with the Congress, which would well result in a change of government in Jharkhand, others do not rule out his siding with expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti.

Meanwhile, the party is trying to stop a break-up as some disgruntled BJP legislators are expected to go away with Mr Marandi.

In Jamshedpur on Sunday, Mr Marandi had charged the Munda government with rampant corruption at the highest level and said he would fight against corruption and extremism under the banner of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, a non-political outfit floated in association with UPA convenor and independent MLA Stephen Marandi.

This was Mr Marandis second rebellion, as in May last year he had opposed the then BJP chief LK Advanis decision to nominate Yadunath Pandey as the partys state unit chief, questioning inner-party democracy.