Rumblings within NDA in Jharkhand over Kurmi issue
RANCHI: Rumblings within the ruling NDA in Jharkhand came to the fore on Saturday with all the four Kurmi ministers in the Babulal Marandi Cabinet threatening to quit the alliance and go with the Opposition if the state government did not do something to fulfil their demands which comprised inclusion of Kurmis among the scheduled tribes.
They will quit their ministerial berths if the state government failed to come up with a solution to the issue, state road construction minister Sudesh Kumar Mahato, energy minister Lalchand Mahato, land reforms minister Madhu Singh and state minister Jaleshwar Mahato said on Saturday.
The ministers alleged they had not been given enough time to study the Panchayat Bill before it was passed by the state Assembly during its budget session in March this year.
Stating that Kurmis, other non-tribal groups and Muslims comprised 73 per cent of state population, the leaders called for population-based reservation for the backward classes at all levels in the state instead of reservation only for tribals who constitute 27 per cent of the population.
Mahato said if the Opposition parties were able to provide an alternative to the Marandi regime and ensure the interest of Kurmis, not only he but all the three Kurmi ministers were ready to quit the BJP-led alliance and go with the Opposition.
The four leaders on Friday addressed a rally of Kurmis which adopted resolutions like inclusion of the Kurmis in the state among the scheduled tribes, review of the provisions of the Panchayat Act and amendments in it.
While Lalchand Mahato belongs to the JD-U, Madhu Singh and Jaleshwar Mahato are from the Samata Party. Sudesh Mahato represents the All Jharkhand Students' Union (AJSU) in the state Assembly contesting the last Assembly elections in undivided Bihar on a United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) symbol.
"We cannot share power with any combine in the state at the expense of the interest of the Kurmis of the state," Sudesh Mahato said.
Lalchand Mahato said he will resign if the Marandi government failed to do anything to improve the lot of Kurmis in the state.
"It is unfortunate that despite constituting 73 per cent of the total population of the state along with other non-tribal groups and Muslims the Kurmis were a neglected lot in Jharkhand," Lalchand Mahato said, adding that the Marandi government will have to do something to fulfil their demands within a definite time-frame if it wished to survive.
Madhu Singh, however, put forward a different condition for quitting his ministerial berth saying if the opposition Kurmi members relinquished their membership of the state Assembly he was ready to resign.
Jaleshwar Mahato said the Kurmi ministers' participation in the rally despite being part of the current dispensation itself said it all.
JD (U) has three members in the Jharkhand Assembly, Samata five and the UGDP two. (PTI)