The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda high on promise and pat

Ranchi, Nov. 16: Chief minister Arjun Munda’s detractors in the BJP are licking their wounds after party president M. Venkaiah Naidu, at the impressive statehood day rally yesterday, not only gave him a “clean chit” but also said Munda would lead the ruling side in the elections.

BJP sources said Munda’s announcement of over 32,000 jobs with the promise of more being lined up had shored up the chief minister’s image so much that his “follies” have paled in comparison to those of the Babulal Marandi dispensation that bowed out of power in March.

“At best, Marandi can be said to have laid the foundation for the sops announced by Munda. But the fact that it was Munda who made those promises come alive has gone in his favour. Munda is not seen as a bona fide BJP man but the words of praise coming from Naidu himself have silenced everyone for the time being,” they added.

Another major factor that has added to the chief minister’s image is the “definite” announcement of holding the much-delayed panchayat polls in February. “Promises of rural polls have been broken a number of times, both by Marandi and Munda. But yesterday’s announcement is different because Jharkhand High Court has already fixed a March deadline for the exercise,” a source said.

Praise from Union ministers like Nitish Kumar and Digvijay Singh has also come as a morale-booster to the chief minister. “These leaders represent the non-BJP segments of the ruling NDA. The message that has gone home is that the Samata-JD(U) ministers in the government, too, are solidly backing Munda. This is significant because non-BJP ministers had been responsible for Marandi’s ouster,” a senior Samata leader said.

The leader added that given the state of affairs at the Centre, it is clear that the BJP, the senior partner in the coalition, is banking on the collective effort of the alliance. “The joint appeal is a reminder to Marandi that Munda is better suited to manage a disparate coalition,” he said.

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