Jharkhand: Eight of 12 Congress MLAs disgruntled over portfolio distribution in Champai Soren government reach Delhi

Amid strong resentment brewing among some Congress legislators in Jharkhand over the induction of four party MLAs in the cabinet of Chief Minister Champai Soren, eight of the 12 disgruntled MLAs reached Delhi on Saturday evening. “We have reached Delhi. Rest will be reaching tomorrow… We will hold discussions with the Congress leadership here… We want replacement of all the four… the 12 MLAs are together barring the four ministers and MLA Pradeep Yadav,” Congress legislator Kumar Jaimangal, also known as Anup Singh, told PTI.

The Bermo legislator said the Congress has 17 MLAs and the JMM 29.

“The JMM has already taken the chief minister and the speaker’s posts. They have six ministerial berths and we want the remaining one. We are not compromising on that,” Jaimangal demanded.

Unhappy with the Congress’ decision to again give ministerial berths to Alamgir Alam, Rameshwar Oraon, Banna Gupta and Badal Patralekh, the legislators went into a huddle at a Ranchi hotel earlier in the day, where JMM’s new minister Basant Soren, the youngest son of party supremo Shibu Soren, reached to persuade them to change their decision.

“There is no confusion… we are all united,” Basant Soren claimed after meeting the MLAs.

Champai Soren and state Congress president Rajesh Thakur have also reached Delhi and are scheduled to meet AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge.

As many as 12 MLAs of the grand old party have threatened to boycott the upcoming state assembly session from February 23 if the ministers are not replaced with new faces.

The JMM-led alliance in the state has 47 MLAs (JMM-29, Congress-17 and one RJD) in the 81-member assembly.

Rajesh Kachhap, Congress MLA from Khijri said, “When JMM can give new faces, why not Congress? Nobody is a king in a democracy.

The group of 12 MLAs have already handed over a signed letter to the state party chief Rajesh Thakur on the matter.

Senior Congress leader and Mahagama MLA Dipika Pandey Singh told PTI, “We want the party to change the ministers and give opportunity to new faces. Instead of adding more women faces, they have retained only one woman minister… How do you justify that?

Bebi Devi, excise minister in the previous Hemant Soren government, was given women and child development and social welfare portfolios.

Devi had contested the Dumri bypoll in 2023 after the death of her husband Jagannath Mahto.

Joba Manjhi, a senior JMM MLA from Manoharpur, who was the women, child development and social security minister in the Hemant Soren government, has been dropped.

Mandar Congress MLA Shilpi Neha Tirkey, too, voiced her discontent.

“During the past four years, we had lots of disapproval and disappointments on the quota given to us… Since there was a sudden opportunity and a new cabinet was being formed under Champai Soren ji, everyone was hopeful that there will be a reshuffle.

“Initially, the swearing-in ceremony was scheduled on February 8. When it was postponed, we were assured that a reshuffle will happen. But it was very disappointing when we saw there was no change and those who were openly praising BJP were retained,” she told PTI.

“Why were new faces not given opportunity… that’s why the whole revolt… We wanted to boycott the swearing-in ceremony, but our state in-charge promised that there will be a good discussion in Delhi about it… It is not about two or four MLAs… It is 12 legislators who are voicing it out together,” she added.

“You appoint anyone… You appoint community-wise, area-wise… We just want fresh faces… We want such faces who can fulfill people’s aspirations. These ministers have not delivered in the past four years, what is the guarantee that they will deliver now,” she added.

The Congress leadership has assured to discuss the issue, she said adding, “We have made it very clear to KC Venugopal that we want discussion with senior leaders.

Most of the Congress MLAs objected to the name of Banna Gupta, who had courted controversy recently after BJP MP Nishikant Dubey posted a video purportedly showing him engaging in an “obscene” phone conversation with a woman.

Gupta had termed the video “fake and edited”.

Congress state chief Rajesh Thakur said that the issues flagged by the 12 Congress legislators are being looked into.

“They have expressed their feelings to me and I shall bring this to the notice of the party central leadership. The decision by the central leadership will be accepted by all. We are hopeful of resolving it very soon,” he added.

In the 11-member Champai Soren cabinet, there are only two new faces — Basant Soren, JMM supremo Shibu Soren’s youngest son, and JMM’s Chaibasa MLA Deepak Birua.

While eight were sworn-in on Friday, the CM and two others — Alamgir Alam of Congress and Satyanand Bhokta of RJD — took oath on February 2.

Basant is the younger brother of former chief minister Hemant Soren, who is in judicial custody in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

On Friday, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Baidyanath Ram, who was allegedly dropped from the list of ministers at the eleventh hour, said he would not tolerate “this insult” and contest as an independent candidate in the upcoming assembly polls if required.

“Everything was finalised and my name featured in the ministers’ list. But, at the last moment, my name was dropped. It is an insult. I will not tolerate it,” Ram had asserted, alleging, “Under pressure from the central leadership of Congress, my name was removed.

Ram also claimed that the CM assured him that he would resolve the matter within two days.

Hemant Soren was arrested by the ED on January 31, shortly after he resigned as the chief minister.

The BJP has 26 legislators and the AJSU Party has three in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly. The NCP and CPI (ML) have one lawmaker each, apart from two Independents. There is also a nominated member.

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