Soren, Marandi join hands to oppose Jharkhand land act amendments

Ranchi, Nov 12 (IANS) The Raghubar Das-led BJP government’s move to amend two land acts meant to protect the land rights of the tribal and indigenous people has brought together two tribal stalwarts of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren and Babulal Marandi.

For the first time since the creation of the state in November 2000, both leaders shared the dais to oppose the Raghubar Das government’s move to amend the two land acts – Chotanagur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act.

Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu had sent the ordinances to the President, who has sought suggestions from the union Government. The Government has referred the suggestion of the National Scheduled Tribe (ST) commission, which has advised against the Jharkhand government’s proposal.

On Friday, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren and former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) president Babulal Marandi shared the dais in Khuti district. Both leaders attended a programme on 100 years of the CNT Act.

Speaking on the occasion, Soren said: “Any amendment in the CNT and SPT acts will not be acceptable. Both land acts are the soul of the tribal and indigenous people of the state.”

Marandi said: “The amendments are brought to grab land of the tribal people.”

Before Friday the JMM was opposing the amendments in both the acts but it did not join the united opposition. On Friday the JMM too joined the opposition.

Soren and Marandi were political foes and they faced each other in Dumka in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. Marandi as BJP leader had defeated Soren twice in Dumka in 1998 and 1999. Both Soren and Marandi have a large following among tribal people.

On November 13, the united opposition including JMM, JVM-P, Congress and others are to stage a dharna at Raj Bhavan to protest the BJP government’s proposed amendments to the two land acts.

Political observers say that Soren and Marandi joining hands against the BJP-led government will have a far reaching impact in the coming years.

The Jharkhand government is contemplating to bring a bill in the winter session on amendments in the CNT and SPT Acts. BJP alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) is opposing the amendments in both the acts.

Vikas Munda, AJSU MLA, resigned from the Tribal Advisory Council to protest the changes in the land acts. The ruling BJP despite opposition within the party has made it a prestige issue.

The BJP leaders are also concerned over Soren and Marandi coming together.

Chief Minister Das on Saturday met Shibu Soren. The reason cited is that Das invited Soren for a November 15 event.