Not everybody is happy with the changes in the Council of Ministers at the Centre. JMM is sulking, a section in the party is upset about the big responsibilities given to some union ministers who are also deputed for party work, and the Opposition has questioned the propriety of appointing a former CEC.
A visibly upset JMM chief Shibu Soren said that he and his party were now “free to take any decision and the Congress should be ready to face the repercussions."
“The JMM has a fixed quota of one Cabinet Minister and one Minister of State. But look what we have got in lieu of our support. We would soon convene a meeting to take a decision regarding our future course of action. The JMM is independent to take any decision now,” Soren said.
Unfazed by Soren’s stance, AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi maintained that cabinet expansions are done after taking a holistic view of the situation. Privately, Congress leaders maintain that the cases against the JMM chief stood in the way of his induction. Soren is not prepared to buy this argument, since he has already been acquitted in both the Shashinath Jha murder case and the Chirudih massacre.
“In fact, the induction of Congress MP from Lohardagga Rameshwar Oraon only added salt to injury. More so, since Oraon happens to be second Congress minister from Jharkhand after Subodh Kant Sahai,’’ said JMM sources who did not rule out the possibility of Soren tying up with the NDA.
The state Congress, on its part, was quick to point out that Oraon’s induction and the JMM’s sidelining indicated the party’s likely course of action in Jharkhand.
Though only the RJD’s Raghunath Jha was inducted, the other UPA allies say they have no ground for complaint as they have already got their share of ministerial berths.
Singhvi dismissed queries about Santosh Bagrodia’s inclusion and the protests taking place at Dausa over their MP Sachin Pilot’s exclusion from the reshuffle exercise. “Like several scare resources, berths in the council of ministers are also limited… Reshuffles are done for good governance,’’ he said.
He was equally dismissive of other allegations – the BJP’s charge that former CEC MS Gill’s induction was improper; that Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi had declined to be part of the reshuffle exercise in view of the ongoing Hogenakkal project controversy; and that the party has dumped the one-man-one-post principle.
“How can it be improper. If it is okay to be an MP, it is okay to be a minister,’’ Singhvi retorted to the BJP’s charge. He also hailed Karunanidhi’s “statesmanship’’ in waiting for the formation of a new government in Karnataka to discuss the Hogenakkal issue. As for the one-man-one-post principle, he said, it remains a norm though decisions are taken according to situation and need.
Inputs from Saroj Nagi