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CM strips Samresh of berths
- Rebel to stay as minister but without portfolio

Ranchi, Jan. 18: Chief minister Arjun Munda today relieved science and technology and infotech minister Samresh Singh of his departments for “anti-government statements”.

Singh will continue to be a minister but without portfolio, according to a Raj Bhavan notification.

Munda told a news conference in the evening that Singh has been removed from the departments for his anti-government statements and also to ensure the smooth functioning of the key wings.

Singh had given a letter to the chief minister mentioning he would not be able to attend cabinet meetings from January 14 onwards, Munda said. “Singh can be asked why he had written so. Maybe he is busy,” Munda said.

“I read Singh’s anti-government statements in newspapers today. A leader is selected unanimously in a democratic set-up and it is his responsibility to work in the state’s interest. I have used my constitutional right and recommended to Raj Bhavan to relieve Singh to ensure that the work of important departments do not suffer,” the chief minister added.

He said Singh was unable to run the departments properly and it will be decided later if he will be given any other berth. The chief minister will look after the departments taken away from Singh.

Asked why Singh was not removed from the cabinet, Munda said: “The action is appropriate for the time being. IT is a very important department. Had I not removed him, it would have created problems in future.”

Commenting on Singh’s allegation that Munda did not allow him to work independently, the chief minister said: “I have allowed everybody to work independently, but with collective responsibility.”

On Singh’s allegation that Munda’s wife and a friend had bagged a lucrative convoy contract, the chief minister asked: “Is it wrong to do business'”

Munda, who was accompanied by revenue minister Madhu Singh of Samata Party at the press conference, said there was no need to consult the NDA partners as Samresh Singh was not removed from the cabinet. He was only divested of the departments, Munda said.

The chief minister also said he would soon call on the Prime Minister and request him to establish an IIT and a 1,000-mw nuclear power station in Jharkhand.

“Jharkhand produces so much nuclear products (uranium) and it must get at least a small part in return,” Munda said.

Asked if Munda brought Madhu Singh along to show that the NDA was united and there were no differences, the revenue minister said it was a coincidence that he was there.

Madhu Singh said it was the chief minister’s prerogative to allot departments to ministers. Energy minister Lalchand Mahto of the Janata Dal (United) later echoed the revenue minister.

Asked if he consulted BJP central leaders before taking the action, Munda said it was an internal matter which cannot be divulged.

But sources said Munda was in constant touch with the central leadership since yesterday evening, adding that a revolt by Samresh Singh would not affect Munda’s majority.

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