The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blame it on the office
- Marandi fall linked to fall of party building

Ranchi, April 4: The “intellectual churning” within the state unit of the BJP over the untimely departure of Babulal Marandi from the chief minister’s chair has, among other things, reached a startling conclusion. The demolition of the BJP’s headquarters in Harmu Housing Colony here to construct a modern building had a role to play in Marandi’s exit.

Despite The Telegraph twice reporting that the party had violated the housing board norms by demolishing the building, the BJP managers went ahead, razed it to the ground and conducted a bhoomi pujan there on February 12, just when rumblings of dissent against Marandi were surfacing. The orders for demolishing the building, incidentally, came from the then chief minister himself.

“When the crisis peaked, the party workers had nowhere to go to air their feelings. A handful of senior leaders would confine themselves to an apartment block on Kanke Road and take decisions on crucial moves to be made. The other venue of deliberations was the chief minister’s residence, which, by then, had become too public a place to hold any meaningful talks,” a senior party functionary lamented.

A flat in Kshirsagar Apartments was the residence “arranged” for state secretary Hridaynath Singh, who earlier used to stay at the headquarters. Even veteran Kailashpati Mishra, during his frequent visits, would put up at the Harmu office. But post-demolition, Mishra was also forced to stay in the same apartment block.

“It was inconvenient and even discourteous for us to enter the residential apartment for discussions. The common forums of deliberations in the party had come to an end with the demolition of the building. The alternative office is a small room which does not enough place to sit,” he added.

A party leader close to Marandi today admitted that the absence of a party office acted as a big hurdle.

“A serious fallout of the demolition was weakening of the party organisation in the state. Imagine a situation where senior office-bearers, including the party president, vice-presidents and general secretaries, do not have a place where they can share their feelings. This happened during those crucial days. The party was in a total disarray and no collective decision could be taken,” he said.

When Marandi was to be appointed as the chief minister in November 2000, he used to function from the headquarters. The place used to bear a festive look.

Hridaynath Singh, party sources said, was against total demolition. He wanted the work to progress in phases so that the party maintained its “presence” in the city. “But Marandi’s advisers pressed for total reconstruction and Singh had no option than to fall in line,” the sources said.

Singh came to Jharkhand from Uttar Pradesh last month and instilled a sense of discipline among the party workers and leaders.

State BJP spokesperson Umashankar Kedia admitted that the party has been facing problems due to lack of a proper office but he refused to elaborate. “The construction work is on and we expect that a new office would be in place before the end of this year,” Kedia said.

The new office would have about a dozen chambers for office-bearers, a dining hall, a waiting hall, residential rooms and a 20-capacity hall for deliberations.

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