No signs of any end to Jharkhand-Centre confrontation
The tension between Jharkhand and the Central government since the last three years has no possibilities of reducing in the upcoming year.
Ranchi: The tension between Jharkhand and the Central government since the last three years has no possibilities of reducing in the upcoming year.
In 2022, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was seen facing many challenges on various fronts, including law and politics for more or less the whole year, but despite this, he was seen constantly criticising the Central government and accusing it of treating the state with arrogance.
Conflicts between the state government and the Governor, kept coming to light the entire year.
The Governor registered his protest several times on the functioning and decisions of the Soren-led government and reported its activities to the Centre and its agencies.
In December, Soren wrote two letters to the Central government – the first, written on December 1, was directly addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding objections to the Centre’s Forest Conservation Rules 2022, while the second letter on December 14, was addressed to Railway Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The letters used many strong words.
Posting the letter addressed to Modi on his Twitter handle, Soren said: “I have written a letter to Hon’ble PM, expressing my strong reservations and objections to the Forest Conservation Rules-2022, they brazenly dilute power of local gram sabhas and uproot the rights of lakhs of people, members of forest-dwelling communities, particularly the Adivasis”.
In the letter, he wrote: “These new rules will end up uprooting the rights of people who have called forests their home for generations. Their traditional lands may get snatched away in the name of development. With the new rules, such a situation has now arisen that once the forest clearance is obtained, everything else becomes a formality. The state governments will be under even greater pressure from the Centre to accelerate the diversion of forest land.”
Soren posted the letter written to Vaishnaw, wherein he said that the Railways and its officers were involved in illegal mining and transportation in Jharkhand, on his Twitter account.
To investigate the same, the state government decided to constitute a high-level committee, and he asked Vaishnaw to instruct the Railway officials to cooperate with it.
On December 23, the last day of the winter Session of the Jharkhand Assembly, Soren gave a long speech, constantly attacking the Centre and the BJP, raising various issues including inflation, fall of rupee against dollar, the Centre’s Agniveer Yojana, tribal policies, the ED’s action, reduction in central aid to Jharkhand etc.
A meeting of the Eastern Regional Inter-State Council was held in Kolkata on December 17, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, where Soren raised the issue of pending payment of Rs 1,36,000 crore to the state on account of land compensation and royalty of coal companies.
Soren claimed that companies like Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL), Bharat Coking Coal Ltd(BCCL), and Eastern Coalfields Ltd. (ECL) had an outstanding amount of Rs one lakh crore of land compensation to the state government, Rs 32,000 crore in general head and Rs 2,900 crore in lieu of royalty of washed coal.
He reiterated that the Centre had withheld this amount of Jharkhand’s entitlement.
In May, 2021, during the pandemic, Modi spoke to the Chief Ministers of almost all the states on telephone. After one such conversation, a tweet by Soren garnered the attention of the entire country, which said: “Today respected Prime Minister called. He only spoke his mind. It would have been better if he talked about work and listened to work.”
When the ED summoned Soren in the illegal mining case last November, he termed it as harassment at the behest of the Central government. In his speech in the assembly, he targeted the PM and said that he was being threatened over the phone.
These remarks were not one-sided as the ministers of the Central government and several BJP leaders made serious allegations of corruption against the Soren-led government.
Addressing a public meeting in Gumla on November 22, Union Tribal Affairs Minister and former Jharkhand CM, Arjun Munda said that the collapse of Soren government was inevitable.
Describing Soren as anti-tribal, he claimed that CM was against the tribals’ welfare and
accused his government of plundering and looting the state’s mineral wealth with the help of brokers and middlemen.
On December 1, Union Minister of State for Education, Annapurna Devi levelled serious allegations against the Soren government after a review meeting of the state’s educational status in Ranchi.
She claimed that around 90,000 teachers’ posts were lying vacant at primary and secondary level and the state government was disinterested in filling them.
The situation of conflict between the state government and the Governor continues to this day.
It was Governor Ramesh Bais who took the matter of allotment of stone quarry lease under Soren’s name to the Election Commission, which brought Soren under the radar.
Bais questioned the government’s decisions and bills several times in the last 8-10 months.
He raised objections to the rules regarding the formation of Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) in the state and termed it as an encroachment of his rights.
Apart from this, he returned half a dozen bills including the Anti-Mob Lynching Bill, Krishi Mandi Bill citing different reasons.
During the review of the functioning of several departments, the Governor made adverse comments on the state government and raised questions on law and order several times.
The coming year will clearly add more chapters to what seems to be a never-ending conflict between the Soren government and the Centre.