Ranchi, Aug. 25: The euphoria of two of the three newly appointed ministers, sworn in at Raj Bhavan yesterday, was short-lived.
Three Congress ministers — Chandrashekhar Dubey, Mannan Mallik and Yogendra Sao — got their portfolios late last evening from chief minister Hemant Soren, but only the first seemed happy.
Mallik and Sao lost no time sulking over the allocations (see box).
Mallik, who got the charge of animal husbandry & fisheries and disaster management departments, alleged “vested interests” had conspired against him, without naming directly party rival Rajendra Prasad Singh, who has received plum portfolios.
Speaking to mediapersons last evening and this morning, Mallik minced no words over the “insignificant departments”. “It is below my expectation. I haven’t decided whether to take charge. I will raise the matter before madam (Sonia Gandhi),” Mallik added.
After taking oath yesterday, Mallik was quick to drop hints about his choice of departments. “Bijli (electricity), pani (water), sadak (road) will be my three priorities as minister,” he said. Sources said he was aiming for the road construction department, which at present is with Hemant.
Party sources said an upset Mallik spoke to the central and state leaderships thrice. But the leadership reportedly chose to ignore his plea and asked him to be content.
“He calls both departments dull and drab where there is no scope for performance. But you don’t need a plum department to perform. You can perform and transform with vision,” a senior Congress leader, involved in portfolio allocation, said.
Sao, on the other hand, did not express his displeasure openly over his portfolios — agriculture and sugarcane development and housing — because he knew the state leadership is already upset over his selection. But, sources said he was miffed. “Unke pratibha ke mutabik vibhaag milna chahiye tha (He should have been given departments in sync with his calibre),” a local Congress leader and one of Sao’s trusted aides, said.
Sao’s “real choice” was the forest and environment. Sao’s political godfather and Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay, is learnt to have been busy on the phone since last night, pushing his protege’s case. But not many agree.“Will it be wise to give this department to a man accused in several forest Act cases? He should be thankful to god for becoming a minister,” retorted a veteran.
Dubey, who got the rural development, panchayati raj, labour and employment departments, appeared content.
Sources hinted Sao and Mallik might have introduced “contractor culture” if they got plum departments.
“Our central leadership had laid guidelines for portfolio distribution, which everybody should accept. It is time to perform as we don’t have much time,” state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat said.