The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda put on progress watch

Oct. 22: Chief minister Arjun Munda today passed the “test” he was put to by the BJP’s bosses in Delhi with ample signals that there was no threat to his government and none of his ministers was destined for the chopping block.

But the certificate of satisfaction was awarded with a rider that the chief minister must focus on filling government vacancies by the year-end and show substantial progress in ongoing development work before the Lok Sabha elections.

The central leadership was reportedly concerned with the tardy pace of development in the state.

The muted sounding of the “poll bugle”, BJP sources said, was as much a result of the trouble that the party unit was facing in Jharkhand as the bad reviews that the three-year-old Babulal Marandi-Arjun Munda regime had been getting over the months.

However, Munda, who met deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, foreign minister Yashwant Sinha and BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu this morning, discounted reports of concern at the Centre. “It was the NDA government which created the three new states (Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh). Therefore, we are anxious to do the maximum development work in this short period,” he said.

Munda said Advani agreed to attend a function in Ranchi on November 15 in which 30,000 appointment letters for government jobs would be distributed.

“Shoring up the public image of the government and the party is the biggest worry of the central leaders when it comes to Jharkhand. The bosses want Munda to prepare enough ground to showcase in the parliamentary and Assembly polls. That is exactly what the chief minister was asked to work for today,” a source said.

Marandi, the BJP’s national vice-president, said: “The performance of the government is good but it needs to be made better. For that purpose, we have convened a few meetings in the recent past. The exercise will continue through the coming months. Many more such meetings will be convened to review the government’s working.”

BJP leaders have been speculating on the prospects of a snap Assembly poll. A decision could be taken after results of the five Assembly elections come in.

Marandi admitted that the main objective of today’s meeting was to review preparations for the 2004 elections.

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