Allaying all apprehensions about his government's stand on the controversial Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda (43) on Sunday said, "No amendment will happen in the CNT Act, till I am in power."
"The CNT Act was formulated to protect the land, culture and identity of state's tribal communities. Hence, the government has no intention to make any amendment in the existing law," Munda said while addressing a series of election meetings in villages of Kuchai block under Kharsawan (ST) assembly constituency, about 60 km from in Jamshedpur.
Presently a Lok Sabha member from Jamshedpur, Munda himself is contesting the by-poll from Kharsawan as the joint candidate of the state's ruling combine of the BJP-JMM-AJSU Party-JD(U) to enter the assembly to retain the chief minister's post. Munda has to get membership of state assembly by March 10 to retain the his post.
The State's main opposition parties – Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P) and Congress - have pitted Dashrath alias Krishna Gagrai, a cycling champion, against Munda.
To make the things more clear on the controversial law, Munda further assured the voters that there was no proposal with the state government for amendment in the CNT Act. "Moreover, the government has neither any plan nor intention to amend the said Act," Munda told tribal village heads and local community leaders while interacting with them at Jojohatu, Baruhatu, Dibardih and Lepso villages. Mainly tribal communities dominate all these villages and surrounding areas.
The BJP's state president Dineshanand Goswami, its general secretary Binay Lal, former MLA Samir Oraon and several other senior party leader accompanied Munda in his election campaign.
The CNT Act, enacted in 1908, more than 102 years back during British rule, prohibits transfer and sale of tribal and backward communities' land to the members of other communities.
The opposition parties like the JVM (P), Congress and Salkhan Murmu-led Jharkhand Disom Party, Jharkhand Peoples Party- are making all-out efforts to corner Munda in the by-poll by raising the issue of alleged "dilly-dallying attitude" of the Munda Government in strict enforcement of the CNT Act.
Opposition leaders, during their campaigning, have been telling electors that Munda Government is going to amend the CNT Act to provide land of tribals to upcoming big industries in the state.
But Munda said, "The opposition leaders are propagating baseless things about the CNT Act."
He also said that his government would soon make a recommendation to the Centre for inclusion of tribal languages like Ho, Mundari and Kudu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.