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Ministers, please mind your language

Ranchi, Dec. 24: The Congress leadership today snubbed HRD minister Geetashree Oraon for sparking a language controversy, sending across a strong message to the party legislators and ministers that any “irresponsible” statements on policy and organisational matters would not be tolerated.

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and Congress general secretary in-charge of Jharkhand B.K. Hariprasad warned party leaders of disciplinary actions if they were found making public comments without the party leadership’s approval.

Ramesh and Hariprasad, who arrived in Ranchi last evening, also pulled up Oraon for making “a politically immature” statement.

The HRD minister had suggested that Bhojpuri and Magahi languages might be removed from the list of optional subjects in Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) on technical grounds, drawing sharp reactions from various segments of the society.

Warning Oraon against fuelling the row further, the Congress leaders categorically said the two languages would remain in TET list.

“The party disapproves any move to de-notify the two particular languages from TET. Anybody speaking against the party stand on any issue will attract disciplinary action,” state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat told the media after Ramesh’s meeting with MLAs and ministers at the state party headquarters this afternoon.

During their individual meetings with Ramesh and Hariprasad, some of the MLAs lodged complaint against the Congress ministers for not giving due importance to their respective constituencies.

“All MLAs want some development work in their respective areas so that they can show something to voters during elections. If the party ministers don’t fulfil their demands, who should they approach?,” asked a Congress legislator.

He added the Congress legislative party had not held any meeting in the last five months, denying party MLAs a platform to raise their concerns.

On this, Ramesh asked Bhagat and CLP leader Rajendra Prasad Singh to convene a meeting on January 4.

This apart, Ramesh sought the party MLAs’ opinions on a pre-poll alliance with the RJD in Jharkhand for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Though Lalu Prasad’s party is learnt to have demanded two parliamentary seats — Palamau and Chatra — from the Congress in the state, most of the MLAs were in favour of giving only one (Palamau) seat to the RJD.

When asked for a comment on Lalu’s recent statement that he wanted to continue with the UPA, Ramesh said, “Any decision on possible alliances will be taken in Delhi and not in Ranchi. Things will be clear very soon.”

BJP preparations

The BJP is reaching out to people living in around 32,000 villages across the state, inviting them to the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Ranchi on December 29.

“This rally will unite like-minded people, who believe in social harmony. We are approaching every section of the society. It’s no more a BJP rally, it will be an assembly of commoners,” said BJP leader Dineshanand Goswami in Ranchi today.