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In-House trouble in store for Hemant

- Coalition partner Congress may join Opposition parties to corner govt on sand auctions

Ranchi, Dec. 10: Chief minister Hemant Soren must brace for a stormy winter session of the House with members of his ruling alliance set to join the Opposition in trying to corner him on his failed attempt to regularise sand mining by way of open auctions.

Moreover, when the 12th session of the third Jharkhand Assembly begins on Friday, the controversial arms missing case surrounding JMM minister Jai Prakash Bhai Patel may also put the government in a tight spot.

The chief minister, who had stayed auctions of riverbeds across Jharkhand in the last week of October following widespread protests, recently directed the mines and geology department to go ahead with “the standard practice” (read auction).

The move has not only drawn sharp reactions from the BJP and JVM, but also irked his Cabinet colleagues from the Congress and RJD.

Congress’s rural development minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey has demanded cancellation of the auction route. “I have urged the chief minister to stay auction of riverbanks,” he said.

RJD legislative party leader Annapurna Devi also has opposed the government’s “anti-people” stand. “The government should allow gram sabhas to decide on minor minerals, including sand, in their respective areas,” she said.

The National Green Tribunal has made it mandatory for a miner to obtain environmental clearance before lifting sand from a riverbank, further complicating the issue.

The missing arms row, though not as volatile as the sand issue, may also put the government on the mat.

Arms and ammunition, including two AK-47 riffles, went missing from the bodyguards of the minister in the last week of November in Hazaribagh. But, after a few days, they were found in nearby bushes as dramatically as they had disappeared.

Though Hazaribagh police have given a clean chit to Mandu MLA Patel, JMV legislators are set to raise the issue to embarrass the government.

This apart, the issue of a domicile policy to provide reservations to “natives” of Jharkhand in government jobs may also invite heated debates in the House.

Pro-domicile parties imposed two bandhs in the state in October and November to press for their demand and they would like to use the winter session as a platform to score brownie points ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Today, Assembly Speaker S.S. Bhokta held a meeting with senior government officials to review the preparations for the coming session.

Among those present were chief secretary R.S. Sharma, home secretary N.N. Pandey, DGP Rajeev Kumar and Cabinet co-ordination secretary J.B. Tubid.

“Officials have been instructed to provide to-the-point answers to questions raised by MLAs,” Bhokta said after the meeting.

According to sources, discussions and voting on a supplementary budget will take place on December 16.

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