The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Verdict-divided state keeps calm

Ranchi, Nov. 28: Jharkhand responded peacefully, though with vertically split opinions, to the court’s verdict on the domicile policy, trashing the state’s contention that the last land surveys constitute the sole basis for deciding who could apply for a government job.

Security was stepped up across the state in apprehension of trouble from pro-domicile activists and retaliation by their opponents. Late in the evening, some suspected domicile supporters sneaked into the civil court compound and tried to set some chairs on fire but were chased away by police. Voices of protest were also heard in Ranchi College and Adivasi Hostel.

The government fought shy of stating firmly on its course of action. The main architect of the policy, chief minister Babulal Marandi, advisers in his government and supporters in his party were not willing to go further than the cliché that the court order is “under study”.

Advocate-general A.K. Sinha said the state was still to decide whether to approach the Supreme Court against the Jharkhand High Court constitutional bench order.

While the government’s advisers had nothing to say, the chief minister today received advice from the most unexpected quarters. “The government can still draft a suitable ‘domicile policy’ and get it passed by the Assembly, and if necessary vetted by Parliament, before enacting a law,” leader of Opposition Stephen Marandi told him.

“The chief minister was in a hurry to push through the domicile policy. He did not take political parties into confidence before framing the policy. Instead of getting the policy passed by Cabinet in a hurry, it should have been placed before the Assembly and intensely debated to ensure wider participation,” he added.

The BJP state unit’s spokesperson refused to comment. “We are still studying the order. We are with the government,” he said. Asked if opinion in the party was divided, he said: “I do not think so. But we still have to make up our mind on the verdict.”

The CPI(ML) maintained that if the government wants to frame a “domicile policy”, it should get a resolution approved by the Assembly during the winter session and send it to the Centre for enactment.

“The government should press the Centre to provide the status of special state to Jharkhand. The government must ensure that it gives preference to locals in jobs,” asserted party MLA Mahendra Prasad Singh.

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