Fourteen years after he snapped relations with the BJP, former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi on Tuesday announced his "wapsi" (return) to the saffron party.
Marandi declared that his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) will merge with the Bharatia Janata Party (BJP) with immediate effect.
"A formal merger ceremony will take place on February 17 at Jagannathpur maidan, which is also known as Prabhat Tara maidan, in the presence of BJPs former president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, present BJP president J P Nadda and BJP vice-president Om Prakash Mathur," Marandi told reporters.
Office-bearers of the party, district presidents and members of the executive committee were present in the JVM(P) meeting when the merger proposal was unanimously passed and approved, he said.
JVM-P has three MLAs, but two of them--Bandhu Tirkey and Pradip Yadav- have rebelled and the meeting during the day decided to expel them from the party.
Marandi will be the lone legislator of the party after doors were shown to the two others.
BJP has 25 MLAs presently in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly. It lost power to opposition alliance of JMM- Congress-RJD in the state polls in the end of last year.
The merger announcement ended the speculations about return of Marandi to the BJP.
The move was triggered by the fact that even after lapse of over two months of elections, the BJP has yet not appointed its legislature party leader, apparently in the hope of Marandis return
"In all, five proposals were unanimously approved by the committees. Two of the important proposals are merger of JVM- Ps legislature party with the BJPs legislature party and JVM-Ps merger with the BJP (in that order)," Marandi said briefing about the meeting.
"The other three proposals are, ratifying the expulsions of party MLAs Bandhu Tirkey on January 21 and Pradip Yadav on February 6 and disposal of partys assets as per legal provisions," Marandi said, adding all decisions were taken as per the partys constitution.
Tirkey was expelled on the ground of anti-party activities in the run-up to the assembly polls while Yadav was expelled after he met AICCs interim president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi besidesd attending the Congress-sponsored anti-CAA meeting in Godda district, evincing interest to join the grand old party and criticising Marandi.
To a query about his quitting the party 14 years ago, Marandi evasively answered "differences do happen even at homes".
Asked what role he expected upon merging with the BJP, he said, "Whatever."
BJP hailed Marandi's merger decision.
In a statement, state BJP president Laxman Gilua said, "The BJP welcomes the proposals of JVM-Ps president Babulal Marandi, which were passed by its executive committee meeting."
A host of senior BJP leaders like state unit vice- presidents Hemlal Murmu, Aditya Sahu, Pradip Verma, Samir Oraon, Priya Singh, Pranav Verma, and general secretary Dipak Prakash greeted Marandi's "wapsi" decision.
Beginning his career as a teacher before joining the BJP and going on to become a junior minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Marandi was chosen by the BJP to become the first chief minister of the newly created Jharkhand on November 15, 2000.
Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in that year.
The allies of the BJP-led NDA, however, breathed down his neck on one ground or the other and culminated their dissent by crossing the floor in the assembly in March, 2003.
The then speaker Inder Singh Namdhari approved a cut motion on budget by voice vote amidst a din, triggering the fall of his government.
Soon after, the BJP appointed Arjun Munda as the chief minister and all the dissenting ministers had again become ministers in the Munda Cabinet with Namdhari once again retaining the speakers post.
The BJP went to the 2005 assembly polls under the leadership of Munda and the results had left a hung house with independent MLAs holding sway.
After a nine-day UPA rule under the leadership of JMM president Shibu Soren, Munda formed the government.
Marandi, who was a BJP MP, decided to walk away from the party and formed JVM-P along with some senior BJP leaders in September 2006.
After forming the new party, Marandi won an assembly election for the first time in the November-December 2019 polls.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)