People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 05

February 01, 2004


Bandh Call Against Corruption, For Panchayat Polls

D D Ramanandan


ON January 22, leaders of almost all opposition parties met the governor of Jharkhand, Ved Prakash Marwah, and submitted to him a memorandum demanding a judicial inquiry into the corruption charges against chief minister Arjun Munda. These charges pertain particularly in the case of land lease to the Tatas and Munda’s personal involvement in getting contracts in the name of his wife and relatives from the Tatas. The opposition also demanded holding of panchayat elections in the state within March 31, 2004, as per the directive issued by the Ranchi High Court.

The delegation of opposition leaders included CPI(M) state secretary J S Majumdar, CPI state secretary Bhubaneswar Prasad Mehta, leader of opposition in the assembly Stephen Marandi (JMM), leader of the RJD assembly group Girinath Singh, state Congress president Thomas Hansda, and leader of the Congress assembly group Furkan Ansari.

The governor assured to intervene appropriately on specific charges.

The opposition parties also gave a Jharkhand bandh call on January 29 on these issues. The CPI(M) called upon its units and supporters to come out on the streets throughout the state to make the bandh successful.

There are serious charges of corruption against the chief minister and many other ministers in the BJP led government in the state. There are also serious criminal charges against many ministers in the government. These include the urban development minister Bachha Singh, charged with murder and preventing police from arresting his relatives who are also accused of murder. In fact, the superintendent of police has publicly accused the minister. There are also charges that some ministers have connection with the extremists. Some others are charged with accumulation of properties and misappropriation of public funds.

Panchayat elections have not taken place in Jharkhand in the last 26 years. A nexus of the mafia groups, contractors and corrupt ministers is looting the public funds.

It is interesting that ministers are publicly bringing charges against one another. When science and technology minister Samresh Singh brought charges against chief minister Arjun Munda, his portfolio was taken away, which ultimately forced him to resign from the ministry.

Arjun Munda is accused of personally dealing with the Tatas for renewal of the land lease at Jamshedpur, which caused a loss of about Rs 4,000 crore to state exchequer. In this deal with the Tatas, Arjun Munda flouted all norms, ignored the objection of the land and land revenue minister, and bypassed the cabinet. In return, Arjun Munda’s wife and brother have got fatty contracts from the Tatas. The other details of the secret deal are not known. The main objection was in respect of the land that the Tatas have sublet and of the vacant lands that remained unutilised but could have been given for establishment of other industries. Instead, the BJP-led government in the state is occupying tribal lands for industrial development, causing the displacement of thousands of tribals and other poor. It may be recalled that the issue of the Tata lease was pending for more than 10 years when the government of united Bihar refused to renew the lease and brought serious charges against the Tatas. (INN)