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Mutiny brews on Munda turf

The banner of revolt against chief minister Arjun Munda is flying high again in Jharkhand.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 02:23 IST

The banner of revolt against chief minister Arjun Munda is flying high again in Jharkhand. And this time, holding it aloft is former CM and senior BJP vice president Babulal Marandi.

Marandi has gone ahead and joined hands with Congress leader Stephen Marandi to protest Munda's style of working and raise issues of “development” --- a move that has the party squirming in embarrassment.

Marandi has announced he will go on a fast in protest against rampant corruption and "growing extremism."

On Sunday, he had shared a platform with Stephen Marandi in Jamshedpur, raising the hackles of central BJP leaders. BJP general secretary Sanjay Joshi, who is in charge of the party organisation, appears to have failed to dissuade Marandi from going ahead with his campaign against Munda.

Marandi, however, denies that he is engaged in a tussle with the CM. "My struggle against corruption, uplift of Jharkhand and rooting out extremism is not directed against any individual, it is a sincere effort in the interests of the country," he said.

But it is no secret that Marandi is still bitter about the way in which the BJP had asked him to quit to allow Munda to take over. Recalling how a couple of ministers had been "responsible" for pulling down his government in 2003 as he did not yield to their "pressure tactics", Marandi said Munda had "ignored" his advice and allotted them portfolios they desired.

Earlier, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha had voiced similar concerns about the Munda government but was asked by fellow BJP seniors not to precipitate matters.

In February this year, sidelined by the central BJP for speaking out against Munda, Sinha had gone to jail on the issue of neglect of Hazaribagh, his home constituency which he lost in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Marandi heads the BJP faction opposed to Munda, who holds the lifeline to the NDA government in Jharkhand. Last year, the BJP was forced to name Munda to keep the flock of NDA MLAs together — after the Supreme Court asked the governor to go for a floor test, which led to the exit of Shibu Soren as Chief Minister.

Last August, Munda faced a revolt from five ministers who hold the key to his government. But the crisis was resolved after a marathon three-hour meeting in New Delhi. In March this year too, Munda sensed trouble when the office of profit issue blew up and herded his MLAs to Gujarat for a few days.

First Published: May 16, 2006 02:23 IST