Centre to consider JMM demand of greater J'kand, Soren

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Bokaro, Jul 29 (UNI) Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren today justified his party's demand of greater Jharkhand, including a few districts from West Bengal and Orissa, claiming that people of those areas were with him on the issue.

Mr Soren said, ''People in the areas in question are feeling exploited, hence they are with us,'' adding the UPA Government at the Centre had also assured of considering the demand.

Mr Soren's assertion on the controversial demand assumed significance as in the past few weeks, both states concerned had reacted heavily to it.

The greater Jharkhand was one of the party's 15-point agenda, submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in exchange of their support to the government during the trial of strength in Parliament on July 22.

Talking to UNI here, Mr Soren said, ''The Prime Minister will definitely consider our demand.'' The JMM president, also the former coal minister, criticised the protests in both states against the demand, claiming that the common masses were with the party.

Former chief minister and Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (democratic) president Babulal Marandi, however, came down heavily on Mr Soren's demand, saying it was nothing but a ''political gimmick''.

Referring to the party's claim in the Central Cabinet, Mr Soren said any decision in this regard would be taken after the Prime Minister's foreign tour.

Mr Soren was understood to have bargained for a berth each in the Cabinet and MoS, besides some development issues related to the state as ''return gift'' from the Centre for playing a crucial role in saving the UPA Government in the trust vote.

UNI XC-AM-PRS SJC PK CS1852

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