The BJP’s Jharkhand unit president Deepak Prakash, who was elected Rajya Sabha MP this year, speaks to Abhishek Angad about one year in the Opposition and the performance of the Hemant Soren government. Excerpts
Since you assumed charge as BJP state president after the party’s loss in Jharkhand, what changes happened on the political front and the organisational level?
From an organisation point of view, we have 27 districts, 513 blocks in Jharkhand and we have selected all presidents, working committees. We have also formed various departments — as it happens in the government — such as on construction, local self-governance, among others, to review the functioning of the government. After I joined, the pandemic came upon us. We ensured that we helped affected poor people and distributed food packets named ‘Modi Aahaar’ at various places. We were in touch with the BJP state presidents of other states and helped migrant labourers. We went to the highways to distribute slippers among them…
But didn’t the biggest displacement post-Independence happen because they (migrants) were an afterthought, for which nationally BJP was primarily responsible?
The situation had gone out of control…
What would you say of the Hemant Soren-led government’s one year?
It has been quite unsuccessful. The Public Distribution System collapsed. Migrant labourers came and left taking away a few more with them, but the state government did not provide them any jobs as they had announced. The government took various decisions such as Jharkhand Land Mutation Bill 2020, which gave immunity to land and revenue department officials. They announced Rs 1 lakh fine if people did not wear masks — it was a Tuglaqi Farman — and then they announced there won’t be any puja because of Covid-19 during Durga Puja and Chhat, but this was against one particular religion. I am not saying that one does not need to follow guidelines, but these orders were against one particular religion. In all these decisions, the government had to reverse its order because of our protest. Corruption is rampant and illegal mining of sand is going on. For example, between Sahibganj district and Baharagora town, the current political masters have a fixed levy of Rs 2,000 on every truck carrying sand. There is financial mismanagement, DMFT funds are lying unused, and also full utilisation has not been made of Rs 200 crore given by the Centre. There is lawlessness, and more than 1,300 women have been victims of sexual violence in Jharkhand in the past one year…
But the same figure stood during the Raghubar Das regime?
But this government is giving statements which do not make sense. There are two statements of Hemant Soren and it reflects his psychology. On one occasion, he said incidents of ‘dushkarm’(crimes against women) are happening because of the changing mindsets during Corona. At another, he said in the Assembly that they are happening because of free data services available to the people. He seems to be encouraging them.
You spoke about financial mismanagement. Please elaborate
The present government keeps saying that they don’t have money. Every country takes loans to run its government, India has taken too from the World Bank, IMF among others. The government says they will work without taking any loans. How is it possible? In the current economic system one takes loans, earns and then repay.
Then there is a lack of intent in revenue generation. For example: during iron production, ultra-fine wastes are generated which is an environmental hazard. There is a technology which can prepare pellets from it and a large quantity is lying in various places in Jharkhand. I had proposed a solution to the central government where it would buy from Jharkhand and the state would get Rs 1,575 crore in revenue. I met the Mines Minister, but the state government is not giving an NOC. They have their hidden agenda. This will also give jobs to 2,000 people. But there is no constructive approach towards generating revenue.
You also spoke about corruption, but recently The Indian Express exposed Centre’s Pre-Matric Scholarship Scam which happened during the Raghubar Das regime?
Yes, and there should be a thorough investigation and any political leader and officer found guilty should be punished.
Senior leader Babulal Marandi joined the BJP after an election loss. There is a perception that his acceptability depended on results of the bypolls on two seats which the BJP recently lost
Babulal Marandi is a veteran leader and during his leadership, the organisation was strengthened, development works started in many villages. Women were empowered and roads were built. Yes, he left the party due to certain reasons, but BJP workers have accepted him 100 %, there is no doubt about it. We lost in bypolls by a narrow margin due to multiple reasons, one was that the current government abused its machinery…
Same is being alleged about former CM Raghubar Das, it is said the district machineries were used for pulling crowds?
He never did it. It is very clear in BJP that there is a distinction between the government and the party. But if the government is announcing certain things, then the Mukhiya will definitely come. If Ayushman Bharat scheme is launched, then medical officers will come. This is not a party function.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines