Jharkhand minister writes to BJP president Amit Shah criticising CM Raghubar Das
A letter from Saryu Rai, minister of food and public distribution in the Raghubar Das cabinet, to BJP national president Amit Shah, airing dissatisfaction over the Jharkhand chief minister’s style of functioning, has created ripples in the state political circles.
Rai has been vocal against the Raghubar Das government’s lapses and corrupt practices for quite some time. He was in Delhi on Saturday and submitted his letter to Shah — though in the latter’s absence — detailing his differences with Das. The contents of that letter were carried in a section of the media here on Sunday.
The state BJP leadership appeared divided on the letter. State party spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo said that leaking the letter’s content to the media even before Shah read it was “unfortunate”, but state BJP president Laxman Gilua justified the action.
Shahdeo said that such an action was not expected from a senior leader. He said that the BJP was a big party and there could be differences of opinion, but Rai’s media trial was not in keeping with the party culture and in good taste. “The party will not tolerate it,” he said.
Gilua said, as reported in Hindustan, “A few days back, [Rai] told me that the government does not listen to him. I communicated his feelings to the chief minister, to which Das said he would talk to Rai. Now if still Rai’s grievances went unheard, then his complaint to the central leadership is justified.”
Rai said, “I was in Delhi for personal reasons and wanted to meet Shah. It is a general letter and no specific issues have been cited there.” The aggrieved minister also said that “I mentioned [my] serious differences with the chief minister over his style of functioning”.
Though he would not say how the letter reached the media, the minister said, “There was nothing wrong in it.” Asked what was the urgency in going to Delhi and submitting the letter, he said “some issues” had cropped up and he had to go to Delhi.
Political observers described Rai’s action as a tactical move in the election year to portray himself as a clean leader and attract attention. But Rai said that it was “nothing like that”. He added that the party leadership was the ultimate authority.
In a recent interview to Eenadu Online, Rai expressed his discomfiture with continuing as a minister in the Raghubar Das government. The main content of his interview, which was also carried by a section of newspapers in Jharkhand, was that he felt ashamed to be a cabinet minister in this government.
According to Rai, the Jharkhand government was protecting the interests of a few business houses involved in corrupt practices in connivance with some government officers, tarnishing the government’s image.
Rai said that he had raised it at the party forum and brought this to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.
That interview rocked the state assembly on February 7 but the BJP leaders preferred to downplay it outside the House.
Urban development minister CP Singh defined it as Roy’s own “thought process” and said that “everyone is free to express [himself]”. BJP legislator Anant Ojha said that Rai was a seasoned campaigner of the BJP and the party would listen to his concerns at the appropriate forum at the right time.