The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Domicile lobby, state on collision course

Nov. 29: Post-verdict domicile politics intensified today with lobbies supporting the jinxed policy deciding to lay siege to the capital tomorrow and the administration vowing to keep trouble-makers at bay.

The government has decided to clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 to fend off the protesters. The Adivasi Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch and the Jharkhand Disom Party are spearheading tomorrow’s protest.

Two days after Jharkhand High Court trashed the state’s contention that the last land surveys constitute the sole basis for deciding who could apply for a government job, the government remained non-committal on moving the Supreme Court.

For chief minister Babulal Marandi, the “leeway” provided by the high court — on the government’s right to formulate a “suitable” policy to give “locals” a preference in jobs — came as a godsend.

The chief minister said the state was committed to safeguarding the interests of the original inhabitants, but did not say how it would do so.

A confused state unit of the BJP refused to comment on the matter for the third consecutive day. But the party’s national vice-president, Kailashpati Mishra, claimed the government would work out effective ways of giving locals preference in jobs.

Mishra claimed that a five-member committee would be formed in all villages and towns to issue “local native” certificates, which would ensure priority in jobs. The committee members would be nominated by the government, he added.

Asked what the party and the government would do if the proposed committees issued “local native” certificates to “outsiders”, Mishra said if these committees are also declared unconstitutional by the courts, his party would find “other means” of ensuring justice to locals.

Marandi and Mishra claimed the high court judgment would not impact on the results of the Godda Lok Sabha bypoll, slated for December 12. “Our rivals are eyeing the minority voters. This paves the way for smooth victory of BJP nominee Pradeep Yadav who is popular in the area. The BJP has a strong support base there,” they argued.

Marandi said his government had taken adequate precautionary measures to prevent violence in the state. “We will hold thorough discussions with all political parties to find out a suitable solution. I am ready to talk with an open heart. The interests of ‘Jharkhandis’ will not be neglected at any cost,” he added.

Mishra alleged that former chief secretary V.S. Dubey was responsible for the fiasco. “When the high court asked the government to define ‘domicile’, the official machinery was in a fix because no such rule prevailed anywhere in the country. At this juncture, Dubey hurriedly cited a notification issued by the Bihar government in 1982,” the BJP leader alleged.

The CPM has demanded that the Centre amend the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act, 1957, to make an exception for Jharkhand for a period of five to 10 years, as was done in some states for giving non-gazetted jobs only to locals on the basis of the recommendation of the State Reorganisation Commission.

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