Giridih: Last year, Raghubar Das, the first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand, made a historical amendment to the Chota Nagpur Tenancy and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (CNT/SPT) Act, which now empowers the government to procure agricultural land owned by tribals for non-agricultural purposes. This has now become a bone of contention for various parties in the state, as these two special laws, under Article 31 (B) of the Indian Constitution, had been granted constitutional protection.
Thus under the original CNT Act (1908) and SPT Act (1949), land of tribals cannot be procured by the government or be transferred to non-tribals in the Chota Nagpur, Santhal Pargana and Palamu region of the state. However, post amendment, it is now possible to do so.
The amendment, right from the time that it was proposed till it was implemented, drew sharp criticism and protest not just from the opposition but also from the tribals. Interestingly, tribal leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party of Jharkhand, including former chief minister Arjun Munda had publically demanded a review of CM’s decision.
On Sunday, when both leaders – Raghubar and Munda, were in Giridih to attend a three day state level cadre training programme for party full-timers, just a few hours before the CM’s arrival, Munda explained why is he still keen on having a review.
He said, “The change in CNT and SPT Act is unlike amendments made to other laws in India. It’s neither a scheme nor a simple policy matter. We need to understand that this law is linked to the future of indigenous people of Jharkhand. So for the greater good and future of the party, I have raised this issue of having the amendment reviewed.”
Munda, who had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, around same time, when chief minister had met party national president Amit Shah, left the training center before the arrival of chief minister.
And when Raghubar was told about Munda’s review demand, the CM responded, “Raghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi, Pran Jaaye Per Wachan Na Jayee (rough translating to when you commit something, keep your word).”
But, political observers believe that, it will not be easy for Das, as in the recent bye poll elections in Littipara assembly constituency, ruling BJP have lost. Political analysts are of the opinion that their defeat was primarily because of the tribal community’s anger over CNT/SPT Act amendments. It was the third loss for the party in the last four assembly polls, held since Raghubar has formed the government.
The tribals of the state are so infuriated with the CM for bringing about this amendment that recently, he was not only shown black flags but was not allowed to hold a rally in Saraikela-Kharsawa district.
On Saturday, state president Laxman Gilua had mentioned that that the party cadres are not happy with the functioning of the CM. Sources inside the training hall, where the three-day event was being hosted, said that during the session, some cadres pointed out that CM does not meet party cadres.
When asked about it, Raghubar maintained, “Cadres and party workers are having very high expectations.” And then after a small pause he added, “But, it is natural, as they put in so much hard work to bring party to power. So we have decided that ministers will sit in state party office from May 20, while MP as well as MLAs will sit at district party office on Fridays.”
However, Raghubar conveniently diverted the answer on other party colleagues, whereas the party president had raised questions on his functioning. CM also ruled out speculations doing the rounds – Jharkhand Vikash Morcha superemo Babulal Marandi returning to the saffron folds. He said, “There is no need to talk about the leader who have no existence now.”