|Suresh Paswan and Geetashree Oraon
Ranchi, Aug. 12: Soon after assuming charge today, tourism minister and RJD MLA Suresh Paswan asked his ministerial colleagues to refrain from raking up controversy over the volatile domicile issue, indicating Hemant Soren’s Cabinet had stopped seeing eye-to-eye in less than a month of his swearing-in.
Perhaps drawing inspiration from Maharashtra’s contentious Marathi manoos idea, JMM chief minister Hemant Soren played the populism card in Bokaro on August 10, calling those listed in the khatiyan of 1932 as original Jharkhandis and others as bhai-bandhu (brothers and friends).
Earlier, Congress MLA and human resources development minister Geetashree Oraon, after taking oath, had also announced only Jharkhand residents would be considered for schoolteacher jobs, following in the footsteps of several states reserving Class III and IV jobs for “their own people”.
Though Congress sources said her statement was to keep tribal people in good humour, it didn’t go down well with Cabinet colleague and water resources minister Annapurna Devi of the RJD.
“The move to work out a local residents’ policy is there in our common minimum programme. Modalities to identify local residents have to be finalised in consultation with alliance partners. No minister can make such announcements on his or her own,” Annapurna told The Telegraph.
Similarly, RJD colleague Paswan firmly said the “local residents issue” should first be discussed among ruling partners before anyone made public announcements.
“We are not averse to the formulation of this policy. But, hasty moves should not incite social tension. We have to safeguard the interests of every individual living in Jharkhand. The chief minister should also call an all party meeting to evolve consensus on the issue,” Paswan said.
He added that while framing the local residents policy it should always be kept in mind that those born and brought up in Jharkhand were not being denied their due rights.
“Proportional representation of sections of society in different pockets of the state should be taken into consideration while proposing reservations in teaching jobs,” he said, referring to Oraon’s announcement.
It is early days yet, so Annapurna and Oraon are keeping matters civil.
Annapurna said she had spoken to Oraon personally. “I spoke to Geetashree (after her teaching job announcement made news). She told me her statement was distorted,” the RJD minister added.
Oraon refused to comment. Congress Legislature Party leader and finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh sought to play it down. “All ministers are united and we believe in collective decisions,” he said.
The domicile issue is a proverbial double-edged sword for politicians. From earning electoral brownie points to creating a major rift among tribal and non-tribal sections of the society, including political heavyweights, its ramifications are deep reaching.
Jharkhand’s first chief minister Babulal Marandi paid a heavy price when he proposed a domicile policy. The state saw violence and the proposal was shelved as high court expressed strong reservations.