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Centre’s agri cradle pampering before poll

Ranchi, Aug. 25: Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh today laid the foundation of Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology (IIAB) in Garhkhatanga, Ranchi, another gift from the central hamper before poll-bound Jharkhand gets under model code restrictions, and dubbed the state the “capital” of seven eastern ones for the “second green revolution”.

Close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar visits in the past few days, Singh is the third high-profile minister who came calling to Jharkhand to launch projects ahead of the Assembly elections.

Tomorrow, Singh will launch Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Ramgarh as a part of his two-day visit.

The back-to-back project-launch spree by the BJP-led Union government is aimed at milking a clear mandate during the upcoming Assembly elections. It’s a move that is making the current JMM-Congress-RJD ruling combine squirm at a time when the latter is dogged by controversies, especially the MBBS seat slash row which showed the government in a poor light.

Though the UPA II during its 2013-14 budget had announced the IIAB, Singh gave his government the credit for expediting the project in less than three months’ time.

“It (the IIAB) will be the first-ever institute of agricultural biotechnology in the whole country. I dedicate the project to Jharkhand and the state should take pride in it,” said he. The cradle will come up on 120 acres on Ring Road at a cost of Rs 287 crore.

Touching the local chord, the Union minister said many villagers would be employed on contract at the cutting-edge research hub to study biotech and nanotech in agriculture.

“The institute will have 76 scientists, 50 technical experts and 83 administration staffers on rolls. Locals will be appointed on contract for other jobs,” he said.

“Jharkhand is crucial for agriculture. The Centre is working for a second green revolution keeping eastern states in mind. My ministry is working out a plan to make Jharkhand the capital of seven eastern states for the second green revolution project,” he added.

Sudarshan Bhagat, who happens to be the Lohardaga MP and minister of state for social justice and empowerment; and Dharmendra Bhagat, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas and state election in-charge, are likely to visit the state to announce more goodies later this week.

On August 28, Bhagat will launch Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana at a function in Jamshedpur.

Pradhan’s programme is not yet confirmed.

On the other hand, to deflect performance-based criticism, the JMM is playing the victim card, keeping up the momentum on the “humiliation” of chief minister Hemant Soren, when he was booed at the Prime Minister’s Ranchi programme on August 21.

Today, a clash between the JMM and BJP was narrowly averted though the workers of the former raised black flags near Union agriculture minister Singh’s cavalcade at Birsa Chowk at 3.30pm, when he was on his way to Ring Road for the IIAB foundation ceremony.