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Jharkhand CM’s unity appeal belies rift worry

Five-time MP Ram Tahal Choudhary, angry over being bypassed this year, has threatened to contest as an Independent

By Our Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 9.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • Updated 9.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
Chief minister Raghubar Das addresses the media in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

CM Raghubar Das, while reading out highlights of the BJP’s Lok Sabha poll manifesto or Sankalp Patra on Monday, the “great festival of Sarhul”, also appealed for party unity at a time veterans such as Ranchi MP Ram Tahal Choudhary have publicly expressed their anger.

Five-time parliamentarian and Kurmi strongman Choudhary, 77, angry over being bypassed this year for younger candidate Sanjay Seth, has been continuously declaring he would contest as an Independent.

Asked by the media if sitting MPs dropped this time — apart from Ranchi’s Choudhary, Khunti’s Karia Munda, Koderma’s Ravindra Rai and Giridih’s Ravindra Pandey were not given tickets this time — bore grudges against the party, Das said, “No MP is against the party. We are human beings so differences of opinion is quite natural.”

Prodded, he said, “I have gone through statements of Ram Tahal Choudhary (Ranchi) and Ravindra Rai (Koderma), they are committed party workers. They are with the BJP today and they will stay with the BJP tomorrow also.”

Koderma MP Rai, dropped in favour of RJD defector and former Koderma MLA Annapurna Devi, told the media recently he did not believe he had been punished for his performance and had full faith in the party central leadership.

But an unbending Choudhary remains a source of worry for the BJP, which can’t afford to lose the prestigious Ranchi seat. If he contests as an Independent, poll pundits believe the BJP would lose sizeable vote share that could help Congress nominee Subodh Kant Sahay. It has been learnt that top BJP leadership is asking Choudhary to reconsider his stand and back out.

Choudhary apart, Das spoke on the BJP’s farmer-friendly zero-interest loans on Kisan credit cards for a period of five years. “We implemented it in Jharkhand and now it is in the party manifesto,” he said.

Terming the BJP poll manifesto as a historic milestone, Das said: “Our government ensured security of the country and we received the support of the world for our fight against terrorism. Modiji will become Prime Minister again because he has done a lot for the poor, for farmers and every section of the society.”

He also hit out against JMM and in particular Hemant Soren, alleging the latter acquired land all across Jharkhand by violating the CNT and SPT land Acts. “Have you seen his landed property in Dumka? In 2014 Assembly polls he was elected from Barhait where he also bought land. Provisions of SPT Act in Santhal Pargana are harsher than of CNT. Yesterday (on Sunday), I was in Deoghar where people told me he bought around 300 acres. People are aware of his landed property in Ranchi and elsewhere. Tribals were badly exploited by the JMM, but now they are aware,” Das said.

The Das government in 2015 had formed a SIT headed by retired IAS Devasish Gupta to probe into fraud transfers of tribal land in violation of CNT and SPT Acts. But, asked about its status, the CM fumbled and said: “I will tell you after inquiring about it.”