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Farook backs joint action
- Soren’s absence surprises governor

Ranchi, Feb. 10: Newly appointed Governor M..H Farook has expressed surprise at chief minister Shibu Soren’s decision to stay away from yesterday’s crucial meeting in Calcutta, maintaining that interstate co-ordination, the agenda of the gathering of chief ministers, was a must to face the Maoist challenge.

“I will not comment on any political issue and raise a controversy,” he said, but the tenor of his remark made it clear he did not approve of the way the chief minister skipped the meeting convened by Union home minister P. Chidambaram, who announced that a joint operation against the rebels was on the cards in Bengal and Jharkhand.

Farook said interstate co-ordination was a sine qua non (essential condition) to combat the Maoists. “That was what the Union home minister’s meeting in Calcutta was aiming at. It was part of a strategy to bring the Naxalite-hit states together to fight the menace that is one of the biggest challenges facing the country today,” he pointed out.

The governor clarified he had not discussed the Naxalite issue with Soren. “But I will give him the correct advice whenever the opportunity arises. It is for the chief minister to accept or reject it,” he told The Telegraph in an interview yesterday.

Farook, who took charge here on January 22, said he was still trying to understand Jharkhand. “It is a rich state with poor people. I believe there is something wrong somewhere. The state government has to look into it.”

The governor said he was against any sort of violence. “Violence has no place in democracy. Everything has to be talked about and resolved. Who will support killing of innocents and blowing up of railway tracks putting the life of thousands of travellers into danger?

“But then, it is for the chief minister and not the governor to come into the picture to resolve the issues,” he said.

Seventy-two-year-old Farook has had a long stint in politics — he was Speaker of Puducherry Assembly from 1964-1967 after which he became chief minister thrice. But he conceded he could not be as active as his predecessor, K. Sankaranarayanan, who was at the helm when the state was under President’s rule.

He said he was stunned to find that Jharkhand had such a poor record of budget utilisation. “Even the home department hasn’t managed to spend more than 40 per cent of the allocation. On the contrary, Puducherry manages to utilise its budget by February and then look to the Centre for additional funds,” revealed

Farook, who has been elected to Parliament thrice and has also served as Union minister of state for civil aviation and tourism.

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