The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Samresh fires graft salvo at Munda

Ranchi, Jan. 17: Minister for science and technology Samresh Singh today accused chief minister Arjun Munda of heading a corrupt government.

Singh said he would not resign from the ministry because the BJP leadership had decided to ease out Munda by the end of this month. “But if for some reasons Munda is not removed, the Jharkhand Assembly would be dissolved and the Assembly election held along with the Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

The BJP central leadership rejected Singh’s prognosis. BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on phone from New Delhi that there will be no change of guard in Jharkhand. “Munda will continue as chief minister,” he added.

Former chief minister Babulal Marandi, speaking from Giridih, wondered how Samresh Singh knew so much when BJP leaders were all in the dark. Marandi also denied any move to replace Munda.

But the maverick minister, known for making largely sensational and irresponsible statements, said 15 ministers would resign if the chief minister is not replaced soon.

Singh, who had played a key role in the removal of Marandi, appeared to have had a change of heart. He said Marandi would be acceptable to him as chief minister.

Singh distributed a statement in which he quoted intelligence agencies as reporting that the BJP could win only four to five seats in the Lok Sabha, out of the 14 in Jharkhand, if Munda continued as chief minister.

According to Singh, the only option before the NDA was to experiment with a non-tribal chief minister or have one as a deputy chief minister.

Launching a broadside against the chief minister, Singh called him “a slave of the house of Tatas”. He accused Munda of helping his wife and a friend bag a government contract.

Singh said he would contest the general election from Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency, with or without the support of the NDA. Singh’s outburst has precipitated a crisis because the chief minister appears to be left with no option but to sack him from the ministry. Whether the dismissal would have a chain reaction is still not clear.

Observers said Singh wanted a commitment from the NDA that he would be fielded from Dhanbad for the Lok Sabha. Having been rebuffed, he is inviting dismissal so that he could become a “martyr”.

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