The issue of strict enforcement of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act has turned out as one of the major poll topics in the ongoing campaigning for the prestigious Kharsawan by-poll, which will decide whether Arjun Munda will continue as Jharkhand Chief Minister or not. The by-poll results would be out on February 17.
Leaders of opposition camp - the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P) president Babulal Marandi, its senior legislators Pradeep Yadav, Samresh Singh, Arvind Singh and the State Congress President Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu - are vigorously raising the issue of alleged “dilly-dallying attitude of the Munda Government in strict enforcement of the Act” at their every election meetings in Kharsawan. They are prompting the voters to ask from the CM as to what was the opinion of his government.
The leaders of the ruling combine of the BJP-JMM-JD(U)-AJSU Party are avoiding a direct reply over the issue, mainly because some senior leaders of the BJP, especially former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, and the JMM chief Sibu Soren hold conflicting opinion on the matter.
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 and also ensures community ownership and management rights of tribals on Khuntkatti lands.
The JVM (P) and the Congress leaders are raising the CNT issue also because it had recently created a wide chasm between the BJP and the JMM. The JVM (P) leaders want to create a fresh chasm between the ruling partners so that it could cause harm on the poll prospects of Munda, who had won Kharsawan seat thrice in the past with a huge margin.
A group of senior BJP leaders led by Yashwant Sinha, has openly been demanding necessary amendment in the controversial provisions of the CNT Act, saying the CNT law was anti-development because it prohibits land acquisition for upcoming industries.
But the JMM had always been advocating strict enforcement of the CNT Act in its original forms.
“The Act was formed keeping in view the rights of tribals and original natives. Any amendment in it would be protested,” the JMM supreme Sibu Soren had told Hindustan Times in December last when the controversy over the CNT law was on its peak. “'The JMM would not tolerate any change in the present format of the CNT Act,” Soren had said.
“By raising the CNT issue in election meetings, we want to inform the voters of Kharsawan about the dual policy of Munda Government on the CNT law,” said the JVM (P) MLA Pradeep Yadav.