The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Marandi fate in George court

New Delhi, March 6: Extending their stay in the capital by another day, the dissident ministers from Jharkhand will hold a meeting with Samata Party president George Fernandes tomorrow to find a solution to the crisis facing the BJP-led coalition government.

The Group of Five — Lalchand Mahto of the Janata Dal (United), Bachcha Singh, Jaleshwar Mahto, Ramesh Singh Munda and Madhu Singh (all Samata Party) — has demanded the replacement of chief minister Babulal Marandi.

“We have decided to extend our stay by one more day as the decision is yet to be taken. Everything will be decided in the meeting tomorrow with our party president after he arrives from Mumbai,” said Ramesh Singh Munda, who also heads the Jharkhand unit of the Samata Party.

The dissidents — barring Bachcha Singh, who returned to Ranchi for personal reasons — today met Samata leader Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav. The meeting remained inconclusive, but the rebels said they were hopeful of a positive outcome.

“The matter is very serious and it will not be proper to take any decision without the presence of the party president, though initially we had hoped that a decision would be taken in today’s meeting,” said Munda, as he came out of the meeting held at Nitish’s ministerial headquarters, Rail Bhavan.

The dissidents, however, ruled out any compromise on their single-point demand. “There is no going back on our demand. We have waited so long. So we can wait another day,” added Lalchand Mahto.

Asked to comment on Fernandes’ refusal to support their demand of removing Marandi, Munda said: “We would not like to comment at this crucial juncture about any statement given by our party president. Everything will be settled tomorrow once we sit down together.”

Agency reports had quoted Fernandes as saying he would not endorse any demand for the chief minister’s replacement.

Yadav, however, said the “issue raised by the ministers is still alive” and that a “solution” would be found at tomorrow’s meeting.

The JD(U) chief had lambasted the Marandi government for its “non-performance” during his visit to Ranchi yesterday.

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