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Rebels skip Cabinet meet

Ranchi, Feb. 22: Rebel non-BJP ministers today boycotted the Cabinet meeting, ignoring Samata Party chief and NDA convener George Fernandes’ plea not to “publicly gun for the chief minister’s scalp”.

Energy minister Lalchand Mahto of the Janata Dal (United) and revenue minister Madhu Singh of the Samata, the two ministers who are of Cabinet rank in the rebel group, said there was no point in attending the meeting since they had demanded chief minister Babulal Marandi’s ouster.

“Attending the Cabinet meeting was meaningless for us as we do not have trust in the leadership of the chief minister,” Lalchand Mahto said.

Refusing to withdraw their demand on the basis of Fernandes’ press statements, the ministers said: “The perspective of national leaders are different from that of state leaders. The majority has the final word in a democracy. When four of the five Samata Party MLAs have raised a demand, it cannot be ignored.”

Confident that Fernandes would change his stand as he issued the statement without “knowing the ground realities” of Jharkhand, the rebels claimed that other non-BJP ministers were also extending support to them.

“Fernandes issued the press statement in Patna on Friday and is now in Guwahati. When he reaches Delhi on Sunday, we will apprise him of the development here. We are sure that he will change his stand,” Mahto said.

Reiterating their demand that the chief minister must go before the budget session on February 27, the rebel ministers said they were getting feelers from the Marandi camp, but that would not affect their decision.

“Tourism minister Jobha Manjhi, science and technology minister Samresh Singh and road construction minister Sudesh Mahto have also extended issue-based support to us. All these ministers support our demand to implement rules of executive business and vest the power to transfer IAS and IPS officers with the Cabinet,” Mahto said.

Those who have launched a tirade against Marandi also include excise minister Ramesh Singh Munda, urban development minister Bachcha Singh and PHED minister Jaleshwar Mahto, all from the Samata.

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