The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebel mud on Marandi

Ranchi, Feb. 18: Four rebel Jharkhand ministers today agreed in principle to “intensify their struggle” against chief minister Babulal Marandi and told him to “redress their grievances”.

Ministers for energy Lalchand Mahto of the Janata Dal (United), land revenue Madhu Singh, PHED Jaleshwar Mahto and excise Ramesh Singh Munda, all of the Samata Party, attended a late evening meeting today at Madhu’s home and decided to meet again on February 20 to chalk out the “final plan of action”.

The ministers alleged that the state machinery was steeped in corruption and the chief minister was leading the corrupt officials.

Today’s meeting, however, was inconclusive after the fifth rebel, urban development minister Bachcha Singh of the Samata, failed to turn up because of an illness in the family. Bachcha Singh promised to attend the second meeting after the four rebel ministers agreed to his request to organise another meeting.

The rebels said the Cabinet meeting listed for February 20 will not come in the way of their second meeting scheduled for the same day. “We will meet late in the evening, after the Cabinet meet, at Lalchand Mahto’s residence,” they said.

On behalf of all four, Lalchand said they had decided to stick to their original demand of vesting all powers in the Cabinet of transferring class-I officers and implementing the rules of executive business as adopted in the state.

Jharkhand, Lalchand said, had adopted the Bihar rules of executive business which vests in the Cabinet the power to transfer IAS and IPS officials.

He alleged that Marandi had concentrated all powers in his hands “to serve vested interests” though the Bihar rules were adopted.

Lalchand said most of the rebels were first-time ministers and lacked information about the standing of the bureaucrats “under whom” they had been virtually placed.

Two years on, even BJP ministers were expressing anguish over their IAS secretaries, he added.

Even Marandi was on record on the growing corruption in the state, he said.

The concentration of powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers in the chief minister was the “root of all corruption”, the energy minister alleged.

“As members of the Cabinet, we have a collective responsibility to the people. So we are demanding that the powers to transfer officials be vested in the Cabinet,” Lalchand said.

According to the rebel, it is a fallacy to believe that Marandi did not interfere in transfers and postings. “On the contrary, though I have been demanding the dismissal of Jharkhand state electricity board chairman Rajiv Ranjan, the chief minister has been refusing to accede the request, exposing the state of affairs,” he said.

Madhu said more than 10 posts of deputy development commissioners had not been filled even after two years.

“I had recommended the transfer of the Palamau deputy commissioner following alleged misuse of state funds of over Rs 1 crore by him,” he said.

“Though orders for a vigilance inquiry were passed, the proceedings were stalled on the chief minister’s direction,” he alleged.

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