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CM gets rid of bitter critic
- Cong backs Hemant against Dubey

Ranchi, Feb. 19: Chief minister Hemant Soren today sacked panchayati raj minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey from his cabinet for making derogatory remarks against his government in a widely anticipated move that left the Congress leader fuming.

Around 10.30am today, the chief minister’s office sent a three-line missive to Governor Syed Ahmed, recommending the removal of Dubey, a maverick leader known to shoot off his mouth often to the embarrassment of his own party.

“For the last few days, the media has been reporting about certain unpleasant statements being made,” Hemant said, referring to the series of uncharitable remarks Dubey has made against him and the Congress-JMM-RJD coalition government.

“His removal is a painful decision but there was no option. I had duly consulted leaders of alliance partners. It was a consensus decision. The Congress party was taken into confidence,” he added, confirming speculation that this time round Dubey’s party would not stand by him.

Dubey, the Congress MLA from Bishrampur, a block in Palamau, has homes in the district, Bokaro, Dhanbad and Ranchi. He had been critical of the coalition government, targeting the chief minister in particular for his failed attempt to auction rights to mine sand from riverbeds.

His latest outburst against Hemant was on February 12 in Bokaro when he alleged before newspersons that the chief minister was one of the most “inefficient and corrupt” Jharkhand had ever seen. He even levelled a casteist slur against Hemant and demanded his resignation.

Hemant, who was then touring Santhal Pargana, was naturally upset. JMM workers also spoke out against Dubey during a meeting in Dumka the next day, saying the alliance government was becoming a laughing stock because of the Congress minister’s frequent outbursts.

On February 14, Hemant left for Delhi along with state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat to discuss seat sharing for the coming general elections. But sources said that during his discussions with Congress leaders in Delhi, he told them, apparently in no uncertain terms, that Dubey had no place in the state cabinet.

Hemant made it clear that either Dubey put in his papers and stepped down from the ministry on his own or he would dismiss him.

On his return to Ranchi the next day, JMM sources said, Hemant decided to wait for another two days for the Congress to act on his demand. The Congress, it seems, gave the green light last night.

Dubey reacted to his sacking with characteristic disdain, using familiar invectives to denounce Hemant.

“I was to resign by 11.45am,” he told newspersons, while brandishing his typed letter of resignation. “But, I was sacked. Now, this government is taking its last breath. I will go to the people’s court and expose Hemant Soren and his corruption and the way he is devouring Jharkhand. I am going to Delhi to ask central leaders whether they backed my unceremonious departure.”

State Congress chief Bhagat maintained that Dubey’s departure was a foregone conclusion. He said the minister had been asked to resign from the cabinet, latest by 10am today. Or else, the chief minister would sack him, he was told.

Dubey would not reveal his next course of action, but indicated he wouldn’t stay in the Congress though he was planning to contest Lok Sabha elections from Dhanbad.

“Right now I am in the Congress. I am not going to resign as MLA. But I am not sure whether I am going to stay in the Congress. In any case I am not going to join the BJP or JVM,” he said.


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