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All-party drought meet today
- Opposition gets ready to press for famine tag

Ranchi, Oct. 11: Chief minister Arjun Munda has convened an all-party meeting tomorrow to discuss the drought scenario. Thereafter, he is likely to request the Prime Minister to give necessary assistance to Jharkhand for carrying out relief work.

Soon after being sworn in as the head of Jharkhand on September 11, Munda at his maiden cabinet meeting had resolved to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the drought situation. He also made a similar announcement in the Assembly while seeking the vote of confidence.

Tomorrow’s meeting may prove to be another acid test for the state government. Contrary to popular trend, almost all Opposition parties have decided to attend the meeting to press for imposition of the famine code on the state at the earliest.

The parties will also seek details of the funds available with the state government and ask where the money will be spent. According to rough estimates, 20 per cent of budgetary allocations under the plan head have been spent so far.

The Opposition will want to know if adequate funds are not available, on what basis the state government has been making tall claims.

“The government will first have to clarify what exactly it wants to do and from where it will get money. If it is solely depending on assistances from the Congress-led government at the Centre, this too has to be clarified before the masses. The BJP has been demanding that the state be declared famine-hit and we also want the same thing,” said Congress state president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu.

JVM principal general secretary Pradeep Yadav, too, maintained that he would take part at the meeting and demand declaration of the famine code. “We believe that Jharkhand meets all criteria to deserve the famine tag. In the larger interest of the common people and poor farmers, we are ready to extend full support to the BJP-led government on this issue,” he added.

The Left parties are also harping on the famine code. “We haven’t worked out any strategy for tomorrow’s meeting. But our demands are common. Apart from the famine code, we have also been agitating for concrete long-term and short-term packages for the drought-affected,” said Janardhan Singh, state secretary of CPI(ML)-Liberation.

BJP Kisan Morcha’s state president Dineshanand Goswami cannot attend the meeting as he fractured his leg recently. The Morcha will be represented by its national vice-president Ravindra Kumar Rai.

Chief secretary Ashok Kumar Singh said the meeting would start at 11am at Administrative Training Institute building. It will be chaired by the chief minister and all ministers will be present.

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