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Gehlot slams CM, state minister

Ranchi, Sept. 1: Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot today criticised chief minister Hemant Soren for “boycotting” his official meetings and functions.

The central minister, who arrived in Jharkhand for a four-day visit on Saturday, also questioned the wisdom of his state counterpart Annapurna Devi for “losing out” on the opportunity to raise key issues, if any, with the Centre’s representatives.

“My ministry is running eight schemes in Jharkhand for the welfare backward communities and physically challenged. But the state minister did not find it necessary to discuss anything (related with the schemes) with us,” Gehlot, who has been accompanied by his junior Sudarshan Bhagat, told mediapersons during a news conference in Ranchi.

Gehlot’s reactions came after both Hemant and Annapurna skipped the official meetings convened yesterday and the day before to review implementation of these schemes. Ultimately, Gehlot and Bhagat too stayed away from the meetings, leaving officials of his ministry to carry forward the proceedings.

Moreover, Gehlot distributed crutches, hand sticks, tricycles etc. among differently abled in Ranchi on Saturday and attended a programme in Gumla yesterday. But no representative of the state government was present in the two events.

Taking a dig at the lax state machinery, Gehlot added that the Centre had not received fund utilisation certificates of several centrally sponsored schemes during the last two financial years. “I repeatedly wrote to the Jharkhand chief minister ( in this regard) but to no avail. Finally, I decided to come here, but the state ministers did not bother to meet,” said a disappointed Gehlot, who also held a BJP workers’ meeting in Khunti today.

However, sources in the chief minister’s secretariat alleged that there was no point in participating in functions that were part of the BJP campaigns to woo voters.

“Neither the chief minister nor the department minister (Annapurna) was formally invited to these functions,” said an official from the CMO.

“My minister of state Sudarshan Bhagat repeatedly tried to talk to chief minister, but he was not put across the line. Their names and photographs cannot be printed on the banners and posters without their consent. No official from the Jharkhand government made a courtesy call to me and Bhagat, even though they held a meeting in the same guest house where we were putting up. Is this the new culture being cultivated by the existing Jharkhand government?,” rued Gehlot.