The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Koda keeps 19 & two deputies
Stephen sore at post share

Ranchi, Oct. 12: Madhu Koda today retained as many as 19 departments as he allocated portfolios and appointed two deputy chief ministers, but the distribution plunged the government into yet another crisis with several heavyweight cabinet members openly expressing discontent at being denied “useful” berths.

Koda, who has had to walk a tightrope on allocation of portfolios, turned up with the list at Raj Bhavan this evening. It followed oblique hints to the squabbling ministers that any further delay in distributing portfolios might lead to the imposition of President’s rule in the state.

The distribution came after more than three weeks of haggling for plum posts, forcing the chief minister to take help from RJD and JMM bosses in New Delhi.

The decision to have two deputy chief ministers — Stephen Marandi and Sudhir Mahto — pleased neither, and has also triggered resentment among others eyeing the post.

Stephen, who was travelling to the state capital from Dumka, exploded on hearing the news. “Two deputy chief ministers' Why, they could then have three or four deputy chief ministers,” he said.

Fuming, Stephen said that since the chief minister had not bothered to give him even one “pro-people department”, and also reneged on his “promise” to give him energy, he would have to review his support to the government.

Stephen told The Telegraph that according to his information, the state’s finances are in bad shape. Therefore, he rued, by giving him finance to handle, the UPA was not doing him a favour. “I need time to think over my next course of action,” he said.

Anosh Ekka, one of the four rebels who triggered the collapse of the Arjun Munda regime, was furious. An outraged Ekka said they were in talks with Koda and there will be a notification for three more deputy chief ministers tomorrow.

Although Koda appeared to have done a fine balancing act by allocating finance and commercial taxes to Stephen and forest and industries to Mahto, the other deputy chief minister, both appeared aggrieved because the chief minister retained as many as 19 departments.

The departments of energy, which Stephen had set his eyes on, and road construction, coveted by several ministers, have not been allocated to any.

While Ekka, Harinarayan Rai and Kamlesh Singh gained additional departments, Chandra Prakash Choudhary found himself stripped of all the old departments he had under Arjun Munda.

Another disappointed minister would be UGDP legislator Bandhu Tirkey, who had appeared to be a frontrunner for many of the larger departments. But while he was apparently keen to get road construction, he has to remain content with HRD, art & culture and sports.

Joba Manjhi, the other UGDP MLA, appeared to have received a better deal than Tirkey. She has been given charge of the welfare, social welfare, women and child welfare departments besides housing. One of her confidants, Nazm Ansari, is the chairman of the state housing board and her preference for housing was well known.

The chief minister has retained crucial portfolios such as home, personnel, energy, health, mines and geology, public relations and civil aviation.

While he will have to part with some of the 19 and odd departments, as and when he inducts the 12th man in the ministry, he clearly wants to retain as much control as possible.

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