The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seven months with ‘safe’ ministers

Ranchi, April 19: Defying the prophets of doom, Madhu Koda today completed seven months in office as chief minister.

The “Independent” chief minister was not expected to last so long but he appears to be secure in the knowledge that neither political parties nor MLAs favour an early election.

The day, however, was marred by the controversy over his midnight meeting with Shibu Soren, a convict and an undertrial, at a cottage in RIMS last night.

The chief minister remained unfazed by criticism that as a Constitutional functionary, and after having taken the oath to protect the Constitution, it was improper on his part to violate the provisions of the jail manual.

Nor did he look perturbed, for that matter, by the public allegation that the police and the judiciary are not lodging an FIR against him because they are being influenced by his position of power.

Levelling the allegation, former chief minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi threatened to move the judiciary if the Governor failed to order a judicial inquiry into the allegation. The court direction to the police, he claimed, was issued following a complaint by one Heera Lal Mahto, who claimed that Koda had forced him to sign on papers that he had received payment for a house he had sold to Koda.

Marandi dramatically said: “As far as I know, Mahto himself is a cheat and I am convinced that he might have cheated Koda too. But as minister or chief minister, he cannot take law into his hands, accompany armed men to Mahto’s house and intimidate him into signing on dotted lines.”

Mahto alleged that police refused to lodge his complaint and Koda threatened to implicate him in false cases.

Police did nothing even when the CJM directed them to file the FIR. On March 26, 2007, the CJM noted that police were doing nothing and directed the Ranchi SSP to do the needful.

The cocky Koda, however, conceded the existence of rebellion in the ministry. Till now he has been maintaining that there are differences of opinion but no rebels in the UPA government. But in a supreme irony, considering he himself was an “Independent rebel” not too long ago, he chose to declare today, pointedly, that “Independent rebels” would have to pay very dearly if they did not mend their ways.

“What will they do if my government falls,” he mocked. “Enough is enough. I have made enough compromises and I am ready to walk out of the chief minister’s official residence… it is for them now to realise their duty and work for the welfare of the state,” he told The Telegraph.

Ally Pradeep Balmuchu, the state Congress chief, endorsed the CM. “Removing Koda at this juncture is no solution,” he said from Delhi, where he is camping to get the government a longer lease.

“If the UPA government functions, we too will benefit,” he reasoned and wished that the CM had taken up the issue with state UPA leaders and ask them how rebels should be handled.

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