Barely 45 days after being appointed as Jharkhand’s first tribal BJP chief, Tala Marandi is facing a tough test within the party over the controversy over his son’s marriage, allegedly to a minor. While the party top brass distanced itself from the controversy, it also indicated that the BJP had taken serious note of the episode.
BJP’s Jharkhand in-charge Trivendra Singh Rawat told The Indian Express: “We are clear that marriage to a minor is a criminal offence. Also, when the matter is linked to a person in a responsible position, it becomes more serious…”
Asked if the party’s central leadership had taken cognizance of the matter, Rawat said: “I am very much aware of these things. I will also talk to the state BJP chief. I can’t reveal more, as several things are yet to be discussed at the party forum.”
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Meanwhile, a section of party leaders rallied around Marandi at a press conference in Godda Sunday, where he was present along with Godda MP Nishikant Dubey and also the father of the girl married to Marandi’s son. “JMM is worried that the BJP will establish itself in its stronghold. That is why it is creating such issues,” Marandi told mediapersons. He also cited the girl’s father to claim she was not a minor.
Later, speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Dubey reiterated: “…the girl’s father is saying that she is more than18 years old.” But no age certificate was shown at the press conference, with the the girl’s father claiming the same would be produced before the court.
Dubey insisted that the party was backing Marandi, adding that the state BJP chief wanted a medical board set up to examine the girl’s age.
“Even if, for argument’s sake, the girl turns out to be a major in a medical examination, nobody is going to believe it. The party is in government at the Centre and in the state. The opposition will always say the results were fudged,” said a source.
On Saturday, Godda district administration instituted a civil suit against Tala Marandi and his son, Munna, over his alleged marriage to an underage girl.