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Upset MLAs, coalition worries — Congress fights external & internal battles in Jharkhand

New Delhi: The Congress party in Jharkhand is battling internal politics, with many MLAs having expressed unhappiness with ministers of their own party, ThePrint has found. The Congress is in coalition with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the Jharkhand government, and while the party is still waiting for Chief Minister Hemant Soren to act on a common minimum programme, its MLAs have complained to the central leadership about problems allegedly being faced by them in getting the district administrations to pay heed to their requests.

The Congress has four ministers in the coalition government. A Congress MLA, speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged that of them one was “pro-BJP”.

“Our ministers’ performances are very poor. They are not competent, they get managed by others,” said the MLA, adding, “Rahul Gandhi had said one man one post. Why then is the CLP leader also a minister (a reference to Congress Legislative Party leader and Parliamentary Affairs and Rural development minister Alamgir Alam).”

The MLA added: “When (BJP leader) Raghubar Das was the CM, he brought in many schemes. Where are the schemes from this government? We are getting increasingly worried about our own re-election. We have raised this with the Delhi leadership, but they are being misguided. They don’t understand the concerns of the grassroots.”

On 7 March, AICC general secretary and Jharkhand in-charge Avinash Pande had met Soren and handed him a charter of coalition and a common minimum programme for the coalition government. He also asked for a coordination committee to be formed to steer the coalition.

“I had asked for all this to be done by 15 March, but he said it could be done earliest by 25-27 March. The ball is in his court now,” Pande told ThePrint Wednesday.

He added: “The government did good work through the pandemic, stood by the people. But there were disruptions and for all practical purposes normal governance is taking off only now. People voted for us and we have commitments to meet.”

Elections for the Jharkhand assembly were held in November-December 2019, but the outbreak of the Covid pandemic soon after had left the coalition government with little time to put in place any system.

The two allies are also said to be tussling over the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state that is set to fall vacant. Pande’s instruction to MLAs to refrain from meeting the CM is being linked to this tussle by some sections of the party. Pande himself said that was just to put a system in place so that all MLAs are able to get works done for their constituencies

The Jharkhand Congress in-charge played down possible tension between the coalition partners and insisted that there was “no cause for concern. The government will complete its term and we are preparing for the 2024 Parliamentary elections.”

Pande was appointed the Congress’ Jharkhand in-charge after former Union minister R.P.N Singh, who had held that position, joined the BJP in January this year.

In a meeting in Delhi Tuesday, the Congress discussed measures to strengthen its organisation and increase membership ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Each of the four party ministers in Jharkhand have been tasked with overseeing six districts, where they will hold janta adalats to showcase Congress work. Delegate conventions will be held in all five divisional headquarters on 18 April 18, and on 25 April the same programme will be held in all 302 blocks.

There are about 30,000 booths in the state and a decision was taken to appoint one male and one female worker for each booth and also a ten member committee in each of them. Pande is scheduled to go on a statewide tour in April to mobilise workers.

Also read: Shiv Sena baits Congress with UPA rejig calls, names 6 regional leaders for anti-BJP front

Problems cropped up post RPN exit

According to senior AICC functionaries there has been is a lot of “fishing in troubled waters” ever since the exit of R.P.N. Singh. “Some MLAs of course want to become ministers, some others think they have something to gain by destabilising the government. This is the usual modus operandi of the BJP in all states where their government is not at the helm,” said a Congress leader.

Meanwhile, a second Congress MLA from Jharkhand dismissed the performance of the coalition government as “unsatisfactory”.

“The government’s performance is not satisfactory. People are not happy with it. I do not know if that is because of the Covid induced disruptions, but on the ground no work is being done,” said the MLA, adding, “Roads are not being built, there are no doctors in the hospitals. I had even raised this in the Assembly. In the districts, when we try to get work done, officials do not listen to us. They are beholden to the ministers.”

The health portfolio is held by the Congress’ Banna Gupta, while CM Soren is in charge of the department of road construction.

Pande does not deny that some Congress MLAs are facing problems in getting work done in their constituencies.

“Our MLAs are ideologically very strong, they are working very hard, but sometimes when they are trying to deal with bureaucrats they face problems. Some complain of step motherly treatment for their constituencies. That is why I have suggested that instead of MLAs approaching the matter individually, CLP should formulate a system to fix accountability so that the works that need to be done are completed. JMM is the major partner, but all MLAs should be respected equally,” he said.

Alam, who was in Delhi to attend Tuesday’s meeting, however dismissed any problems in the government, and rather chose to point his finger at the MLAs.

“There are no problems whatsoever (in the government). There are some concerns that MLAs cannot always give adequate time for party work, but nothing more than that,” Alam said.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Congress MLAs ‘upset’ with own ministers within MVA, raise issue at meeting with Sonia Gandhi

Source: The Print

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