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Declare property in 2 days: Speaker - Warning for MLAs reluctant to furnish details

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  • Published 20.12.11

Ranchi, Dec. 19: Speaker C.P. Singh today ordered all members of the legislative Assembly to furnish their property details within two days, in compliance with a request of the Union law ministry.

Reprimanding members for not abiding by his earlier order to submit property details by March 31, 2011, the Speaker threatened to unmask the offenders as the winter session of the Assembly got underway.

“This is ridiculous. Despite me asking all of you to file your property declaration by March 31, the majority didn’t do so. Only 20 or 22 legislators submitted their details. Should I read out the names of those who followed norms? After all, there should be transparency,” the Speaker said, at his sarcastic best.

Assembly secretariat sources said no cabinet minister had furnished property details so far.

Singh said he needed to send the data to the Union law ministry at the earliest so that the latter would furnish the details during the ongoing session of the Rajya Sabha.

Though the issue was expected to open up a veritable pandora’s box, all members agreed to abide by Singh’s diktat, at least on the face of it. Aware that they had to send out the message that they were adhering to rules and that their image was clean, the legislators claimed that they would not be side-stepping rules this time round.

“I was the first to submit the declaration papers. I will ensure that all party MLAs submit the same before the deadline,” said JVM Legislature Party leader Pradeep Yadav.

Congress’ very vocal MLA from Daltonganj K.N. Tripathy would not say whether he had submitted his details to the Assembly secretariat or not, but alleged that none of the 11 ministers in the Arjun Munda cabinet had done so.

An embarrassed HRD minister Baidyanath Ram took cover by stating that everyone had declared assets before the elections. “Phir bhi nirdesh hain to karenge” (but if there is a directive, it will be followed),” he said.

Agriculture minister Satyanand Jha Batul was smarter. “Ready hai, jama karna baki hai” (It is ready, I only need to submit it),” was his response when asked what prevented him from doing so before the March 31 deadline.

Notably, on January 4 this year during the last winter session, chief minister Arjun Munda had announced in the House that all his cabinet colleagues would declare their property for transparency in governance.

The chief minister’s unfulfilled promise assumes significance given that corruption cases are pending against several public figures, including former chief minister Madhu Koda and four of his cabinet colleagues.

In neighbouring Bihar, cabinet ministers made their assets public earlier this year. Any individual seeking details can find the same on the state’s website.