BSP’s only Jharkhand MLA resigned from the Assembly on Friday, protesting against an ambiguous reply of a minister to his question on reviving a cement plant that he said reflected the casual approach of the BJP-led state government while addressing legislators’ concerns.
“I am fed up. I moved a resolution for the revival of the Japla cement factory. I got upset as urban development minister C.P. Singh replied casually to my concerns, saying that I should search for investors if I was keen on reviving the factory,” said Kushwaha Shivpujan Mehta.
The MLA said the state government was not bothered about the industrial development of Palamau. “Am I running the government? Am I the minister? The factory was auctioned and its machinery sold. In the coming years, even the land of the factory will be auctioned,” he said, adding that he had held demonstrations during every House session to raise the issue.
“In the last four and half years, I have seen that the government takes questions raised by MLAs very casually,” Mehta said, referring to his private member’s resolution that was ultimately rejected by the House by voice-vote.
The Japla cement factory was set up in 1917 by Martin Burn Company. It continued production till 1984 when operations were stopped. In 1985, then Bihar chief minister Bindeshwari Dubey persuaded Dalmia group of companies to run the factory, promising Rs 5 crore as financial assistance.
But the state government only released Rs 2.5 crore. The Dalmias were unable to run the factory and it was shut down in 1991.
Last year, the factory machinery was auctioned off for around Rs 12 crore under the supervision of Patna High Court after it rejected Jharkhand government’s intervention petition seeking to stop the auction.
Mehta handed over a typed resignation letter to Speaker Dinesh Oraon during the second half of the day’s session. But an Assembly official, citing technicalities and the circumstances of his decision, said the letter would not be considered by the Speaker.
“He submitted a typed resignation letter when the session was going on. But after that he stayed back and took part in proceedings because many MLAs asked him to. So his resignation has automatically turned infructuous. Had he left the House immediately, then the matter could have been considered,” said a senior Assembly official.
Asked whether he was serious about quitting the House, Mehta admitted he did not know the nitty-gritty of House procedures.
“Today I submitted my resignation to the Speaker. Now the ball is in his court. But I am fed up,” he said, adding that the state government had never taken his concerns seriously.
“I had raised the issue of district-level reservations in government jobs and displacement of local residents due to the Batane water reservoir. But none of these were taken seriously by the government. HRD minister Neera Yadav virtually scolded me on one occasion,” he claimed.