NEW DELHI: AICC in-charge of Jharkhand Ajay Maken on Tuesday told The Hindu that if Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren formed the government in Jharkhand, the party will support him.

At present the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the JMM, independents and smaller parties support the coalition government headed by Chief Minister Madhu Koda, an independent member.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Soren staked a claim for forming the government in the State and said that if Mr. Koda did not step down, his party would withdraw support reducing the State government to a minority.

Claiming that the decision to make him the Chief Minister was taken long ago, he said the United Progressive Alliance supported him. Consequently, after a meeting of Jharkhand leaders at his residence here, he demanded that Mr. Koda step down to make way for him. Mr. Koda is said to have dismissed the demand.

However, sources said “technically” unless Mr. Soren withdrew the support of his 17 MLAs to the Koda government, he cannot dislodge the Chief Minister. Even then, Mr. Soren would need the support of the five independents in the 81-member House. The independents are all Ministers in the Koda government.

The sources said that the Congress would support Mr. Soren but he would have to take the independents along with him.

Mr. Soren had backed the UPA in the trust vote in the Lok Sabha on July 22. “Let coalition decide”

PTI reports from Ranchi:

Denying that he had been asked to step down, Mr. Koda said the UPA was authorised to take any decision on the leadership issue after taking the alliance partners into confidence.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi said in Jamshedpur that no independent legislator, including himself, wanted Mr. Koda to step down.