The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong puts rift blame on ‘meddling’ Soren

Ranchi, Nov. 7: The Congress today targeted Shibu Soren for the rift within the UPA, accusing the JMM chief of “too much interference” in the government’s functioning.

The differences between the two principal allies became apparent yesterday when Soren came to chief minister Madhu Koda’s defence at the UPA steering committee meeting. The Congress had boycotted the meeting, saying it was a “farcical exercise” since the government had failed to perform.

Soren, who praised Koda yesterday for working patiently against odds, reiterated that the chief minister was not to be blamed for the misgivings the Congress might have.

A stung Congress promised to take “drastic action” soon and said Soren’s meddling had created more problems for the government.

The Congress said Soren, who is also the state UPA steering committee chief, had rejected the recommendations proposing its nominees for the posts of chairmen of Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited and Ranchi Regional Development Authority.

The party wanted two of its legislators, Niel Tirkey and Manoj Yadav, to get the plum posts. But the JMM boss rejected the proposals, apparently because he wanted party candidates in those posts.

“Let the JMM walk away with all the posts of chairmen of the boards and corporations. We will not mind,” a piqued state Congress chief Pradeep Balmuchu said.

But, he clarified, the rejection of the proposals had nothing to do with the annoyance of the Congress with the Koda government.

Soren came to Koda’s rescue at yesterday’s meeting when some members tried to target the chief minister. Soren promised to hold the steering committee meeting every fortnight. He advised the members to settle disputes through talks and praised Koda’s “efficiency” at working patiently in spite of the odds.

“If the government is not functioning smoothly, we cannot shirk our responsibilities, either. It is our job to compel the government to show efficiency. The common minimum programme will be finalised by November 15 and the R&R policy by the end of this month,” said Soren, after inaugurating the office of the UPA steering committee convener here.

The JMM’s contention is that with 17 MLAs, the party has 10 more than the Congress. “So how can our party be ignored'” a JMM central committee member asked.

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