Rifts appear in Jharkhand BJP over land laws, domicile policy

Ranchi, Aug 9: The ruling BJP in Jharkhand is sharply divided over Chief Minister Raghubar Das's government's decision to make changes in two land legislations through ordinance.

Not just the Opposition but a section of the Bharatiya Janata Party legislators along with state BJP President Tala Marandi has expressed concern over the move.


The Das government has proposed changes in two land acts -- Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy (SPT) Act. Both acts -- the CNT of 1908 and the SPT of 1949 -- protect the land rights of the tribal people and local residents.

Once the ordinance is signed by President Pranab Mukherjee and the changes are incorporated and made effective, the land now used only for mining and industries could also be used for roads, power, development work and other things.

State BJP President Tala Marandi said: "The ordinance was brought in a hurry. There is no need to amend the land acts. If proposed changes are made, then the identity of the tribals and Moolvasis will come under threat. I do not think that development work is hampered by either of the land acts".

Marandi's statement has put the state government in an embarrassing position.

Another BJP legislator, Shiva Sankar Oraon earlier said: "We were kept in the dark during Tribal Advisory Council meetings."

The main opposition party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Executive President and former Chief Minister Hemant Soren said: "The land will be acquired for malls, cinema halls and other purposes. We cannot be mute spectators as this is a question of identity of the people of the state."

In July when the Opposition disrupted the monsoon session of assembly, a group of tribal BJP legislators had met the Chief Minister to express their concern.

The tribal and Moolvasi leaders within the BJP are also unhappy with Ragubar Das over the Domicile Policy brought in April this year and now this ordinance. Four Lok Sabha members had written letter to the Governor, demanding changes in the Domicile Policy.

A BJP tribal legislator told IANS: "Raghubar Das is playing with the sentiments of the Advasis and Moolvasi. He doesn't belong to either communities. His move will hurt the party as the opposition parties have united on both issues. The central leaders should intervene. The Chief Minister should focus on the governance."

The opposition parties and BJP alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) have stepped up their agitation. The AJSU has launched 'Jan ki Baat', alleging that the state government is ignoring the party.


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