Ranchi, May 14: The BJP faced a full-blown revolt in Jharkhand today.
Dissidents demanded the removal of Yadunath Pandey, whose appointment as the new president of the state unit was announced yesterday.
He would be forced to resign his seat in the Lok Sabha and the post of national vice-president of the party, declared former chief minister Babulal Marandi, if the party fails to reconsider the decision.
He also made it clear that the party had time till Tuesday to correct the course to his satisfaction. Or else, he threatened, the future course of action would be decided at a meeting in the state capital on May 17.
There was minor relief for the party when Marandi denied having stated that he would be quitting the party, reported in a section of the media today. But in the same breath, he added that it was time for him to take ‘hard decisions’.
He also accused chief minister Arjun Munda, among others, of misleading BJP president L.K. Advani.
Dissidents held an informal meeting in Ranchi and Marandi loyalist Ravindra Rai told newsmen: “There is no need for Babulalji to quit the party; we will kick the traitors out.”
For good measure, Rai fumed, “do Rajnath Singh or Hridaynath Singh have the courage to visit naxal affected areas in the state' We have nurtured the party with our blood and sweat but ‘they’ are now ruling the roost.”
The group was even more forthright in condemning plans to instal R.N. Tiwari as the chairman of the Jharkhand Mineral Development Corporation.
Tiwari, they complained bitterly, is not from Jharkhand but hails from Bhagalpur. What’s more, he was close to the Congress till the mid-nineties and his lifestyle, they claimed, was dubious.
Even more damaging was their insinuation that Tiwari is being imposed by Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu ‘for their personal gains’. BJP, they complained, had become a pocket organisation.
Organisation secretary Hridaynath Singh, however, retaliated in kind by asserting that he was not answerable to Marandi. There is no provision in the party constitution, he claimed, for consultations with the state unit before appointments made by the national president.
The party’s state unit, he claimed, had made no recommendation at all and therefore Babulal Marandi should take his complaint to the central leaders.
The chief minister’s camp put up a brave face and felt that the intemperate utterances betrayed Marandi’s growing isolation within the party and his frustration.
“Surely his memory is not so short that he has forgotten the opposition he himself faced when appointed the president of the party’s Vananchal unit in 1995'” asked a legislator in the Munda camp.