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Coalition in quandary, Ramesh makes a quip

Ranchi, Dec. 23: The political cauldron in Jharkhand is once again on the boil, with allies in the ruling coalition making their differences obvious and the Opposition eyeing a poll window of opportunity amidst the discord.

If an adamant Hemant Soren, JMM leader and deputy chief minister, has revived his party’s long-standing demand of handing over of the chief minister’s baton once Arjun Munda completes 28 months in office on January 10, Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto — the other deputy — is making tacit preparations for the next Lok Sabha elections.

In fact, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who held a meeting with senior Congress leaders in Ranchi today, asked them to have patience and begin preparations for the general elections, taking a dig at the government’s multiple power centres.

Munda’s sudden flight to Delhi in the afternoon further kindled controversies though his aides contended that he was visiting his family and would return tomorrow.

But, Ramesh did not hesitate to continue his tirade against the state of affairs in Jharkhand.

“Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are doing well because they had Congress chief ministers when they were carved out of their parent states. Jharkhand, now, has four chief ministers. One among them is a constitutional one, two are deputies and the fourth is a super chief minister,” he said, without naming JMM chief and Hemant’s father Shibu Soren.

Ramesh had reached Ranchi yesterday to review progress of various schemes, particularly those meant for rebel-hit areas. Today, at the meeting with party members, he focussed on the necessity of FDI in retail and how Aadhaar cards would administer justice to the poor.

“Whenever the Congress tries to do anything good, the Opposition makes a hue and cry. They had vehemently opposed computerisation as well. Further, as Parliament has already passed the FDI bill, now it is for different states to reap benefits. People may initially face problems with the Aadhaar cards, but in the long run it will be a great friend to commoners. But, you have to be vigilant and see that the poor get their due share on time,” he added.

Congress workers complained that the Munda government was projecting all Centre-sponsored schemes as its own. They demanded that committees of party workers be formed across the state to curb this. But, Ramesh reportedly only advised them to begin whole-hearted preparations for the next polls.

JMM general secretary Hemant has, meanwhile, said that his party was not scared of fresh elections or the President’s rule. “We will soon submit a new charter of demands to the chief minister. If the government fails to take prompt action, we may pull out,” confided a senior party leader.

The Ajsu chief, on the other hand, maintained that his party did not aim to topple the Munda government. But, in the same vein, he admitted that they had begun preparations for the Lok Sabha elections.