Saffron Munda loves everything green - BJP cries neglect as chief minister warms up to old JMM associates
Dhanbad, May 12: Chief minister Arjun Munda might have struck a chord in every heart but his Jharkhand Mukti Morcha background continues to rankle with the sangh parivar hawks. They are apparently unhappy with Munda’s soft corner for everything “green” (the official JMM and RJD colour).
Senior leaders said he was yet to be “saffronised” and get the basic training in sangh ideology. At least as the party’s chief minister, he should be familiar with the ways of the parivar and work accordingly, said a section of the state BJP top brass.
The party is yet to get used to Munda, who is unlike his predecessor Babulal Marandi so far as his saffron leanings are concerned. A hardcore VHP “pracharak”, Marandi was politically groomed in the saffron ideology. Most of the time, he was seen donning a saffron shawl, pagdi or a half jacket. But Munda is yet to do away with his dash of green, the colour of most of the non-BJP parties in Jharkhand.
Munda’s visit to Dhanbad on May 11 upset the party rank and file more for his love for “green” than for his “indifference” towards the BJP. The chief minister was accorded a warm welcome by his former party workers at Mahuda — though the function was organised by the Samata Party. His itinerary began with the garlanding of the statue of JMM founder Binod Bihari Mahato, where he was presented with the traditional green “padgi”.
Clad in a green half-jacket, Munda looked comfortable in the company of his former partymen with whom he was associated for many years before joining the BJP in 1995. He spent quite some time catching up with the latest and interacting with his old associates. But sources close to the chief minister said most of his acquaintances in Dhanbad were with the Samata Party now.
“It is true that the JMM activists met the chief minister. But many of them have now joined the Samata Party, an ally of the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition in the state. There is nothing wrong in Munda interacting with them,” the sources told The Telegraph. But the BJP workers were “stunned” when a section of the All-Jharkhand Students’ Union went straight to the Town Hall where the official function of the BJP was being held.
The Ajsu workers went straight to the dais to greet Munda and went away. Though the BJP had planned a tumultuous welcome for Munda’s maiden visit to the coal capital, it kept its ceremony “low-key” after finding that the chief minister had been “hijacked” by the green brigade. Even at the airstrip, JMM and Samata Party cadres mobbed Munda more than the BJP activists.
Munda’s media managers said since Ajsu was also an ally of the NDA, there was “nothing wrong” in meeting the student leaders. But the local BJP leaders were sore with Munda for devoting little time to party activities. Dhanbad party unit president Satyendra Singh said: “We are not satisfied with the chief minister’s visit to the coal capital as he did not have much time for the party.”
He hinted that the chief minister take a cue from human resources minister Pashupati Nath Singh, who always accorded top priority to party work despite his hectic schedule as minister. “Whenever there is a party programme, the human resources minister takes time out for it despite his hectic schedule in Ranchi,” Singh told Munda.
“He will take some time to adjust to the party’s ideologies. But then this only shows how acceptable he is as a chief minister. Activists, cutting across party lines, flocked to greet him. This is something unprecedented,” a state BJP member said.
Though the party has assigned organising secretary Hridaynath Singh to groom Munda, insiders said Munda would require some more time to “mould himself as a BJP man”.