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Jharkhand’s Youngest CM, Now a Convict: Who is Madhu Koda?

Former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda’s fall in the realm of politics seems to have been as swift as his rise.

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From serving as the fourth chief minister of Jharkhand (2006-2008) to being named as a convict in a coal allocation and mining scam, Madhu Koda’s journey is as rocky as the political history of his state.

And it seems that Koda was very much aware of the turbulence that comes with a political career, as he had once remarked, “This post (the post of the CM) is not a bed of roses but a crown of thorns… If I become the chief minister, it will be the support and blessings of god, my elders and friends.”

On Wednesday, 13 December, a special CBI court convicted Koda in the coal allocation and mining scam, alongside former coal secretary HC Gupta and former Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar.

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Humble Beginnings and a Stint With the RSS

Born to a tribal farmer on 6 January 1971 in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, Koda’s rise in politics was swift – becoming the youngest chief minister of the newly-formed state at the paltry age of 35 (going by the Indian political standards). He became only the third CM in the history of the country to hold the post as an independent legislator.

Media reports cite how his father, Rasika Koda, was disapproving of his political career. His family reportedly called him an ambitious person who “dreamt too big”.

However, Koda went on to pursue his political ambitions unhindered. Having pursued his graduation from the IGNOU Centre in Bhubhaneshwar, Orissa, Koda entered into politics as a student leader.

He went on to join the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a worker in 1990.
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The Big Break in Politics

Koda’s first big break in politics came in 2000, when he became an MLA from the Jaganathpur seat as part of the Bihar elections. Within no time, the state of Jharkhand came into being, and Koda’s constituency came under the new state. He was given the post of Minister of State, Rural Engineering Organisation (Independent Charge) in the first BJP-led government, led by CM Babulal Marandi.

In the subsequent years, till his elevation to the chief minister’s post in 2006, he served as MoS, Panchayati Raj of Special Arrangement (2003-04) and Minister of Mining Geology and Cooperative (2005-06).

During this time, his relations with the BJP also soured because he was not given a ticket by the party during the 2005 Assembly elections, and he went on to contest and win as an Independent. Nevertheless, he continued to support the BJP-Janata Dal (United) coalition led by Arjun Munda.

Ultimately, with the support of three more independent legislators, Koda brought down the Arjun Munda-led government and assumed the post of the chief minister on 14 September 2006 with support from the UPA.

However, his reign only lasted till mid-2008 when Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Shibu Soren staked claim to form the government, forcing Koda to resign. He continued to hold the portfolio for mining through this period.

In 2009, Koda also contested the Lok Sabha and became the MP from Singbhum constituency, once again as an independent candidate.

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The Fall Was as Swift as the Rise

The mining scam involving Madhu Koda pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks in Jharkhand to companies. The CBI and the ED alleged that Koda took bribes for illegally allotting coal and mining contracts during his tenure as chief minister. The investigative agencies round off the figure to about Rs 4,000 crore, allegedly amassed in this period by Koda and his associates.

The mining case against Koda predominantly deals with a Kolkata-based firm named Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd.

Moreover, Koda was also allegedly involved in irregularities with regard to the allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to the Jindal group of firms.

In its chargesheet, the CBI had alleged that Jindal had promised Congress support to the then “unstable” Koda government in Jharkhand in return for a recommendation for allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to his group firms.
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Koda’s alleged involvement in the above-mentioned scams gradually weakened his political career since 2008.

Most recently, in September 2017, the former chief minister was also disqualified from contesting elections for three years by the Election Commission for failing to file campaign expenses related to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

With the special CBI court having convicted Koda along with others on Wednesday in the coal and mining scam, and the sentencing all set to take place on 14 December, one cannot help but notice how Madhu Koda’s fall has been as swift as his rise in the realm of politics.

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