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Crisis in Jharkhand; Marandi offers to talk to rebels
February 21, 2003 21:02 IST
Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi on Friday told the five rebel ministers, who have demanded his ouster on charges of corruption in the administration, that he was ready to talk to them to sort out their grievances.
"The chief minister is ready to hold talks with the four Samata Party and one Janata Dal-United minister to discuss and solve their problems," BJP spokesman Uma Shankar Kedia said in Ranchi.
He said that the ministers -- Revenue Minister Madhu Singh, Public Health Engineering Minister Jaleswar Mahato, Excise Minister Ramesh Singh Munda and Urban Development Minister Bachha Singh (all Samata Party) and Energy Minister Lalchand Mahato (JD-U) -- should not have gone public with their demand for change in leadership.
"The best course for the ministers would have been to approach their respective central leaderships as they are also a part of the NDA coalition at the Centre," he said.
Kedia also slammed the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Sibu Soren's allegations that five of his MLAs were approached by the BJP.
The political temperature in the state soared after the four ministers on Thursday night approached their respective parties to work for a change in the leadership in Jharkhand before the February 27 Budget session "in the interests of the people and state".
Senior Samata leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Chandrakesari and Sports Minister Baidyanath Ram of the JD-U have been keeping away from the meetings and 'secret conclaves' of the rebel ministers.
Meanwhile, the Congress party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are keeping a vigil on their respective MLAs amid reports of 'defection'.
"We are taking the crisis seriously and keeping an eye on our MLAs... our high command has been informed on the ongoing situation in the state," Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Shashi Bhusan said.
RJD spokesman Manohar Yadav said, "There is no chance to allure away our MLAs. Recently Laloo Yadav has spoken to all the nine legislators who expressed their confidence in his leadership... rather, the BJP should guard against its legislators from coming out open against the chief minister like the five ministers."
The coalition led by Marandi has 33 BJP MLAs, five Samata, three JD-U, two AJSU-UGDP, one Jharkhand Vanachal Congress and one independent MLA.
Out of an effective strength of 81 MLAs in the assembly, the opposition has 36 members -- JMM (twelve), Congress (eleven) and RJD (nine). The remaining four members are from different Left parties.
Meanwhile, the All Jharkhand Students Union, a coalition partner in the Marandi government, said it was ready to mediate between the chief minister and the five rebel ministers.
AJSU vice-president Praveen Prabhakar said the party was keen to mediate in the interest of the National Democratic Alliance and the Jharkhandis. He also urged Marandi to convene a meeting of all partners of the coalition.
Samata Party president and Defence Minister George Fernandes also came out in support of Marandi, saying the "rebellion" did not have the party's sanction.
"Instead of demanding the ouster of Marandi, the ministers should have resigned from the Cabinet if they did not have faith in the leadership of the chief minister," Fernandes said. "Such behaviour is unwarranted in a coalition government," Fernandes said.
Coalition politics warrants adherence to certain norms and all ministers, irrespective of their party affiliations, should follow them, he said.
More reports from Jharkhand