Jairam Ramesh in Basariya village on Monday. Picture by Saikat Chatterjee
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee may be a prickly topic for UPA II, but her efforts to rein in Naxalism were praised on Monday by a Union minister.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, during his ongoing tour of Jharkhand’s rebel-hit underbelly, while telling The Telegraph that his party leaders were going to rebel areas, threw in warm praise for the Bengal chief minister. “See how brilliant Mamata is in Jungle Mahal.”
On his part, Ramesh, who spent last night at Latehar Circuit House, today visited Basariya Panchayat under Chainpur block in Palamau around 11.30am.
Affable and approachable, it looked like he was doing the spadework to build Congress base with 2014 Lok Sabha elections in view, but his concern seemed sincere. Basariya, which according to bureaucrats is a red stronghold, has no road, electricity or drinking water.
At a Basariya rally, Ramesh said he did not need to be told what the situation was. “I can see the pathetic condition. This is why innocent people are being duped by Naxalites in the name of alternative development. But, today’s Naxalites don’t have any ideology. Their sole aim is to earn levy,” he said, calling people to have faith in democracy.
He added that land acquisition rules were not pro-tribal. “I am hoping new laws are in place in three months. The Centre is working on it,” he said.
He sounded optimistic about the upcoming Saryu Action Plan. “I have asked the local administration to send proposals via the state government,” said Ramesh. The tentatively Rs 249-crore Saryu Action Plan, in line with Saranda Development Plan, has bagged the Centre’s in-principle nod and has 12 gram panchayats in Latehar with a Palamau chunk.
After a 10km ride on a kutcha road, Ramesh then reached Daltonganj Town Hall to meet 280 gram panchayat mukhiyas, including over 100 women.
Sounding bullish about transferring power to gram panchayats, he said: “It is the onus of state but Centre can advise the former to do it fast.”
He also asked women representatives not to breed the culture of husbands’ proxy rule. “There are many mukhiya patis and sarpanch patis in Bihar,” he said.