Meeting of MPs on state growth

Ranchi, March 17: Raj Bhavan is preparing to call a meeting of Lok Sabha MPs from Jharkhand with Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and P. Chidambaram, who have expressed willingness to thrash out issues affecting the state's development.

Though the presence of finance minister Chidambaram in the crucial meeting is uncertain, his rural development counterpart is set to participate in it.

"We are co-ordinating with the rural development minister's office. Initially, we were told that the meeting should be called on March 23, but later we were asked to defer it for March 24. Now, we are again being asked to hold it on March 23. A formal decision will be soon taken after getting a final word from the rural development minister's office," said governor's principal secretary N.N. Sinha.

The meeting will focus on issues such as the Naxalite problem, law and order, governance, development work and funds utilisation, which were touched upon by Chidambaram while passing the state budget in Parliament last week.

With Chidambaram also promising fresh Assembly polls in Jharkhand within six months ' a popular demand among state leaders ' his political rivals here have been compelled to revise their stand.

Although most of the Congress MPs have boycotted meetings called by former chief minister Arjun Munda in the past, BJP heavyweights like Yashwant Sinha are ready to accept the invitation.

"I had in fact proposed in Lok Sabha that a meeting with MPs be called early, which has been endorsed by the finance minister. Hence, my participation is guaranteed. I have not yet decided the issue that I will be raising in the meeting. We also have adequate time in hand," said Sinha, who represents Hazaribagh.

JVM supremo Babulal Marandi said that though Raj Bhavan had not informed him, he had heard about the likely meeting.

He will be holding a meeting with senior party colleagues before taking a call. The JVM has two representatives in Lok Sabha.

"I am now leaving for Delhi. I will stay there for two to three days and take part in the parliamentary session. I will also be talking to leaders and decide. If they approve of it, we will also be finalising our agenda for the proposed meeting," commented Marandi.

He also thanked Chidambaram for his opinion on fresh Assembly elections in Jharkhand. Asked if the JVM was reconsidering forging electoral alliances with Congress, he left the door ajar saying his party was preparing to contest.