Saturday, September 03, 2005

‘Extremism is not State-specific... Centre must form concrete policy’

Firing line

Arjun Munda, Jharkhand Chief Minister

• It appears that dissidence against you is the work of some disgruntled politicians and they should be dealt with firmly. Please comment.
V P Damodar, Pune

For running a government successfully, we need to have a closely-knit team. There is no dissidence in my government. In a big family, there is bound to be difference of opinion. But all the members have a common goal — development of the State.

• What ‘‘bargain’’ or ‘‘deal’’ did you strike with your ‘‘unhappy’’ ministers so that you can continue being chief minister?
Subhash C Agrawal, Delhi

There is no unhappiness in my ministry and we are all working as a team for the State’s development. And when we are all working for a common cause, where is the question of striking a ‘‘deal’’?

• In the 81-member Assembly, your government survives on a razor-thin support of 45 MLAs. The Opposition has alleged that your support base has shrunk with two of your allies — Jaleshwar Mahato and Ramesh Munda — losing faith in your leadership. How stable is your government?
Diwakar Ghosh, Kolkata

The JDU is an important constituent of NDA, both in the State and in the country. Every constituent of NDA values and cares for each other’s commitments and ideologies. Both Mahato and Munda were ministers during our previous government and hold important portfolios at present. They are both responsible and committed to the prosperity and welfare of the State and have full faith in the leadership.

• Why are several senior BJP leaders, including Yashwant Sinha, Babulal Marandi and Karia Munda accusing you of misgovernance, rising crime and corruption in the corridors of power?
M R Reddy, Guntoor

These people are all very senior and respected leaders. I am not sure whether they have levelled any charges against the functioning of my government or on issues like law and order or corruption. I am working for the best interest of the State in particular and the country as a whole. If there is any scope for improvement I would welcome any constructive suggestions.

• From November 15, 2000 to March 18, 2003 when Babulal Marandi was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, the state vigilance department launched a drive against corruption during which many government functionaries were caught taking bribe and jailed. No such drive has been carried out during your tenure. Why is this so?
Kamlesh Yadav, Patna

In any government, it is the system that is more important than the individual. A government cannot run on the whims and fancies of someone, no matter how powerful he may be. As and when there is the need, the system carries out specific drive for cleansing. It’s a regular feature of governance and is independent of personal idiosyncrasy.

• In Jharkhand, there is no let-up in Naxalite violence; power cuts continue; roads are full of potholes; and water supply continues to be a problem. Aren’t these examples of misgovernance?
Ashok Kumar, Dhanbad

Law and order and extremism are two different issues. Extremism is not a State-specific phenomenon. It has gone much beyond States and even beyond our country. The Centre will have to come up with a concrete policy in concurrence with the States suffering from this menace to completely eradicate this problem.

As for other development issues, Jharkhand was thoroughly neglected for over 50 years before separate statehood. There was virtually no development in this region due to sheer apathy of the previous governments. The region was always exploited for its mineral resources while its people were left to starve. But now the people of Jharkhand have felt a positive change.

• You recently visited London, Paris and Geneva. Your maiden foreign tour is said to have cost the state exchequer over Rs 50 lakhs. You met steel magnate L N Mittal in London, but is it true that he has lost interest in investing in the State?
Dinesh Dubey, Patna

L N Mittal expressed his interest in setting up a large integrated steel plant in Jharkhand and sent his team of experts twice to the State. We held discussions at the official level. I personally had very constructive talks with him, both in New Delhi when he last visited India and in London. But investments of such magnitude are only made after detailed feasibility studies and due diligence, which is currently being carried out by the company. I can assure you that Mittal is still very keen to set up the steel plant in the State as it has the most congenial industrial environment and the best of resources.

• You sing and play flute. Have you done anything for the state’s tribal musicians, dancers and theatre artists?
Manzer David, Jaipur

To add to the list, I dance as well. Music and dance are part of tribal life. For innocent tribals like me, music and dance is the only form for relaxation. It is music that sets the rhythm of our simple lives. Our government has a separate department to promote tribal art, culture and tradition and we have been receiving overwhelming response from all the people.

• You have succeeded in retaining your chair for over two years. As CM, did you ever evaluate your own performance?
Abhishek Anand, Panaji

Our government has been making untiring efforts to connect even the remotest villages by road, supply electricity and potable water, and make people literate. Our vision is that by 2010, all our 32,000 villages must be electrified, achieve 100% literacy rate, and cut down the number of families living below the poverty line by 10%. It’s a daunting task, but we have the will.

That the people have started believing in us is evident from the interests expressed by investors. The State has firm investment proposals for more than Rs 100,000 crore. Within a month, we will sign Memoranda of Understanding for setting up two large integrated steel plants with proposed investments of over Rs 50,000 crore.


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