The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda fulfils Marandi’s pardon pledge

Ranchi, April 2: From do-it-later to do-it-now. Chief minister Arjun Munda has ended a chapter and begun another, indicating a no-nonsense approach to governance at least as far as departments under his control are concerned.

What the chief minister brought to a close today were 309 cases slapped against 2,825 activists of the statehood movement. Something his predecessor, Babulal Marandi, could not do during his 28 months in office.

What Munda started was a signal that he would stand by his vows. For instance, another of his initial promises — to constitute a khadi board within 15 days — has been met before the deadline lapsed.

Of the 309 cases, 291 were being pursued by the state government and the rest 18 had the Centre as a party. The government would now send a recommendation to Delhi for dropping these 18 cases as well. In the days to come, more cases would be dropped.

But the road to the annulment of the cases has a last block. The government’s advocates would now inform the respective courts about the intention to withdraw the cases and, if the judicial magistrates concerned concur, the cases would stand dropped. Home secretary J.B. Tubid said he was hopeful that the courts would go by the government’s contention.

Munda himself figures in one of the cases. He had squatted on rail tracks in the nineties and disrupted train movement near Jamshedpur. Charges under Sections 144, 353, 341 and 34 of the IPC were pressed against him. Names of several prominent leaders of the JMM and the All Jharkhand Students’ Union also figure on the list.

The chief minister today made another promise, a rather big one, and said he would give out appointment letters to 10,000 school teachers on June 30, observed as Hul Diwas to mark the martyrdom of tribal brothers Sidhu and Kanhu.

What came from Munda in the form of a “warning” was a 15-day “grace period” to deputy commissioners and police superintendents of some districts for processing the remaining statehood movement cases. “I have had a video-conference with DCs and SPs and told them that they would not get more than 15 days,” he said.

Marandi had come to be known as a chief minister who made promises at the drop of the hat but was not very prompt in fulfilling what he vowed to. Sources in the BJP said the new chief minister has signalled that he means business but “we will have to see how he functions under pressure from the other ministers”.

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