Coal controversy, Jharkhand politics bring down Sahai
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Subodh Kant Sahai's resignation from the Cabinet has hardly come as a surprise. The former tourism minister's fate was sealed when his name figured in the coal allocation controversy in August.
The slide, however, had begun two months earlier, which resulted in him being alienated at the state level. Incidentally on both occasions, Sahai stuck his neck out for his family.
Sahai's replacement in the Cabinet is likely to be Jharkhand state Congress chief Pradeep Balmuchu.
Since becoming a Rajya Sabha member in May, Balmuchu has manoeuvred smartly to present himself as an alternative. He claimed credit for organising Rahul Gandhi's two-day visit to the state in September. Balmuchu is also a tribal and a Christian, which works to his advantage.
Sahai's rough patch began when the BJP alleged in August that his brother Sudhir Kumar Sahai had attended meetings on behalf of SKS Ispat and Power, which was put on track for allocation of a coal block within 24 hours of the minister writing a letter to the PMO. It was suggested that Sudhir was a director at SKS Ispat, but his family denied the claim.
Two months before that, in a botched attempt to increase his clout in Ranchi, his Lok Sabha constituency, Sahai insisted that his brother Sunil Kumar Sahai be made the Congress candidate for the bye-election to the Hatia assembly seat, necessitated by the death of a Congress legislator. However, Congressmen reportedly worked against Sahai. He came fourth and lost his security deposit.
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