The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday accepted the resignation of Jharkhand party chief Tala Marandi, who was appointed to the post 13 weeks ago. Experts believe the push to replace him with another tribal leader, Lakshman Gilua, came after Marandi opposed proposed amendments to tribal land rights laws. Gilua is a representative of the Chaibasa constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Marandi, a Santhal leader representing the Borio Assembly constituency, was also recently linked to a controversy, where his son Munna was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl for two years, and then marrying another minor.

Marandi was the first Santhal leader to be appointed to the post of BJP state chief. His selection was aimed at bridging the gap between the government and the tribal people under the regime of the state’s first non-tribal chief minister, Raghubar Das. Tribal communities account for 27% of the state’s population.

Officials said Das was not satisfied with Marandi’s work and was unhappy that he criticised the state government’s proposed changes to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. The two laws limit the transfer of land belonging to the Scheduled Tribes. The Ordinance, if passed, will allow the government to acquire farmland for non-agriculture purposes.

The party took a cue to replace him after more than six people, on his newly-announced 50-member team, declined to come on board.