The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Samata squabble on way to Delhi

Ranchi, Sept. 15: The crisis in the state Samata Party unit has deepened with the first batch of dissidents planning to leave for Delhi in the next two days to petition their central leaders for the ouster of state party chief and excise minister Ramesh Singh Munda.

Party sources said the rebels had originally planned to stage the “coup” at the Samata national executive and the national council meeting in Gujarat this month. But as the date of the Gujarat meet is yet to be finalised, they decided not to waste time “in the party’s larger interest”. There are five Samata legislators in the Assembly, all of whom are ministers.

Sources said that as part of the oust-Munda campaign, the rebels have unanimously decided to toe the party line and avoid jettisoning a tribal leader to avoid hurting tribal sentiments in the state. They have decided to petition party president George Fernandes to “promote” Munda as a national general secretary.

Sources said another tribal leader from Jharkhand, Raj Kishore Mahto, was already functioning as the party’s national general secretary.

“Munda’s promotion as the general secretary will take him away from the state. The step at a glance would be lauded as honours heaped on the tribal leader. Munda would be only too happy to tour the country for party work at state expense,” said a party leader.

Once Munda is ousted, the rebels have planned to back working president Shahid Hassan to take on the reigns of the party. “Though Munda’s ouster is unlikely to cause any dislocation, the elevation of Hassan, who is from the minority community would make up for the loss,” the leader said.

Sources said the dissidents are unanimous in backing Hassan’s candidature. But they would impress upon the national leaders to keep all the five Samata ministers away from party work.

“One minister is as bad as the other and their activities over the past year have proved they are not fit for party work,” sources added.

Even earlier, the party had witnessed an ugly war of nerves over the selection of its leader in the Assembly when parliamentary affairs minister Ramchandra Kesri was locked in a battle with revenue minister Madhu Singh and others.

The domicile issue also led to squabble in the party. This time, Munda locked horns with urban development minister Bachcha Singh who was critical of the government’s stand.

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