The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Koda cajoles ministers to meeting
- Cabinet members keep CM waiting for talks on tackling Naxalism

Ranchi, Oct. 30: Amid mounting concerns over a surge in Naxalite violence, chief minister Madhu Koda had to cajole his ministers to attend a meeting on combating extremism in the state.

Rural development minister Anosh Ekka, who is under fire for hosting a birthday bash for his son on Saturday when the state was reeling from the news of the Giridih carnage, turned up two-and-a-half hours late for the meeting called by Koda to draw up an action plan to fight the extremists.

Ekka was the not the only one. Health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi was nearly two hours late for the meeting, which was convened at the chief minister’s residence at 10 am.

HRD minister Bandhu Tirkey defended his colleagues, saying they had no “prior intimation” of the meeting.

His welfare counterpart Joba Manjhi could not make it because she was forced to retreat halfway while coming from Manoharpur, ironically due to the bandh called by the rebels.

Agriculture minister Nalin Soren expressed inability to come because of illness and deputy chief minister Sudhir Mahto was in Delhi for the medical treatment of his daughter. The meeting began nearly two-and-half hours behind schedule and was over within an hour.

The group of ministers approved the joint action plan and joint border-line management with neighbouring states, to battle Naxalism in Jharkhand. It also resolved to “regularise” long-range patrol in the hilly terrain and double its strength.

The ministers admitted that the “focus area” of ultra-Left rebels had shifted from small contractors and local moneylenders to mighty politicians, senior bureaucrats and eminent social workers. They had spread tentacles all over the country and could not be handled effectively without proper coordination with neighbouring states.

Asked if he would hold formal talks with his counterparts in neighbouring states, Koda said: “I am in regular touch with them. All are convinced that joint operations and border-line management ought to be given top priority. We have also approached the Union home minister for assistance.”

Koda said that once the Assembly elections in Gujarat were over in December, Jharkhand would get more central paramilitary forces.

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