An eight-year-old Jharkhand State is awaiting its 7th chief minister
Ranchi, Aug 27 (IANS) With his flowing beard, he looks more like a Hindu godman. But newly anointed Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren is a politician to the core and hugely popular in the state despite being dogged by bribery allegations.Popularly known as "Guruji", the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief took to politics after battling for years moneylenders who exploited members of his poor and impoverished tribal community.
Born Jan 11, 1944 in Nemra village of Hazaribagh district (now in Ramgarh district), Soren had to cut short his education after his father was allegedly killed by thugs in the employ of moneylenders.
That made the young man a lifelong foe of moneylenders. At the age of 18, he constituted the Santhal Navyuvak Sangh.
In the late 1960s, he set up an ashram at Tundi block in Dhanbad district. Despite being born in Chotanagpur region, the young revolutionary chose the Santhal region to take on the moneylenders.
The man became a terror for those who lent money to the needy at exorbitant rates of interest. He also took up the cause of the poor. Very soon, he was also opposing "outsiders" — the non-tribals.
In an outbreak of violence against "outsiders", the tribals killed 11 people in Chirudih village of Jamatara district. Soren was made an accused in the case.
By then he was being revered as a "god" in the tribal society. The murder case forced Soren to go underground. But not for long.
In 1971, Soren became the general secretary of JMM. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. In 1986, he became the JMM president. He went on to represent the Dumka Lok Sabha seat in 1989, 1991 and 1996.
Soren's image changed with the passage of time. As he came to be seen as another politician who made deals and took short cuts to power, he failed to get elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and 1999.
Soren's popularity declined after he and three other Lok Sabha MPs were charged with taking bribes to vote in favour of the Congress government of P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1992. He was jailed in the bribery case.
In 2004, he became coal minister in the Manmohan Singh government. He was forced to quit the cabinet in July 2004 after a warrant pending against him in the Chirudih massacre surfaced.
Soren was again made a minister in the central government in October 2004.
He quit the cabinet in March 2005 after becoming the chief minister of Jharkhand. But he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, and had to step down.
Soren was again inducted in the central cabinet in 2006.
He had to leave the central cabinet again in October that year after he was convicted and awarded life imprisonment for the murder of his personal secretary Shashinath Jha.
He was acquitted in the murder case by Delhi High Court in 2007. He has also been let off in the Chirudih massacre case.
On Wednesday, as he again became chief minister for a second time, Soren declared that his aim was to promote the people's welfare.
"I understand the problems of both the rural and urban people. I will try to take development to the last person in the state."
The defeat in a by-poll of Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren can only be described as surprising. Usually, such events are scripted beforehand and any correlation they may have with popular will is, at best, weak. But what happened at the hustings in the Tamar assembly constituency was astounding: Soren lost to a novice, Gopal Krishna Patar, by around 8,000 votes. In Jharkhand politics this is a 7.0 on the Richter scale event.
Jharkhand is a state that has been beset with political instability right since its creation eight years ago in November 2000. No chief minister has completed a five-year term. Defections, independent legislators turning into kingmakers and utter lawlessness in the countryside have been the salient features of political life in the state. A small legislative assembly (with 81 legislators), a political landscape divided along tribal lines and a legacy of gravely weakened institutions inherited from its parent state, Bihar, have contributed to this sorry situation.
In the instant case, however, a large part of the blame must be laid on the doorstep of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. In a bid to save its government and the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the UPA's political managers vacuum-cleaned all political allies who could save the government. Soren, who was embroiled in a murder case, came in handy, as did his Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
The tacit bargain stuck at that time, that Soren would vote for the UPA in Parliament and would in turn have a free hand in Jharkhand, made a mockery of representative politics. Soren, one could say, simply walked into government last August. He ousted chief minister Madhu Koda, himself an independent who had earlier ousted another chief minister by "walking out" with the right numbers of legislators.
His defeat is unlikely to change things in Jharkhand. In the fractured electoral landscape of India, states with weak institutions of governance stand little chance to improve their lot. At a time when every single member of Parliament counts in forming governments at the Centre, states such as Jharkhand come in handy to secure these numbers. It's another matter that the people of the state deserve better.
RANCHI (Jharkhand), Jan. 8: The historic Morhabadi grounds of Ranchi will now be readied for a new oath-taking ceremony. But with JMM supremo Mr Shibu Soren losing the Assembly bypolls today and with it his chances of staying the chief minister of the state, Jharkhand is now clueless about who will be taking this oath.
An eight-year-old Jharkhand is awaiting its 7th chief minister.
Mr Soren, the chief minister in office, was defeated in the Tamar bypolls by Mr Gopal Krishna Patar aka Raja Peter. Mr Patar contested the by-polls on a Jharkhand Party ticket and has secured his win with a convincing margin of nearly 9,000 votes.
But Mr Soren's defeat in the elections, especially when he was contesting as a chief minister in office, has managed to surprised all.
The question which arises here is why Mr Soren chose to contest the polls from the Tamar constituency. Being a veteran political campaigner, Mr Soren should have known that Tamar was a constituency alien to him and was far from the political map of Santhal Parganas, which has been his political region over decades.
Initially, it was Mr Soren himself who was very categorical to contest the Jamtara seat after the sitting candidate from there and a rebel BJP MLA Mr Vishnu Prasad Bhaiyya, put down his papers making way for Mr Soren. Mr Soren is not a member of the state Assembly and had to win an election to remain at the helm of affairs in Jharkhand within six months of his oath taking. Jamtara would have been a relatively safe seat for Mr Soren as it was very close to his own political hinterland, Dumka.
However, Mr Soren, later, decided to contest the Tamar bypolls. The answer to the question of what prompted him to do so, is unknown.
Also, Mr Soren did not consider the fact that JMM does not have enough organisational support across Tamar Assembly constituency before filing his nomination. The seat is an erstwhile stronghold of the Congress and the JMM actually had utilised the Congress's organiSation structure during Mr Soren's campaign.
The chief minister of Jharkhand Shibu Soren suffered a major set back when he lost a crucial assembly by-election to Jharkhand Party candidate Gopal Krishna Patar by 9,000 votes. Gopal Krishna is a member of the ruling alliance led by the JMM. The winning of Tamar assembly seat was important for Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren as it would have kept his post of chief minister safe. After the loss, the chief minister may have to resign from the post.
The Tamar constituency fell vacant after JD(U) legislature party leader Ramesh Singh Munda was killed on July 9 last year by Maoists.The bypoll was held on January 3 and the counting was taken up today. Soren became chief minister in August last year and needed to be elected to the state assembly within a six month period that ends Feb 27.
Gopal Krishna who secured 34,186 votes said that the people of Tamar have made the right choice as he had working here for the last ten years. Meanwhile, the BJP demanded the resignation of Shibu Soren and wants President's rule to be imposed in the state of Jharkhand. BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said that Soren's defeat is equivalent to that of Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal's defeat in the state.
The BJP demanded fresh elections in Jharkhand. Reports say that the UPA have asked Shibu Soren and former chief minister Madhu Koda to visit New Delhi to discuss the political scenario. It is very likely that Soren will be asked to step down and ensure formation of a new UPA government in the state
DID YOU KNOW? Whenever you use a commercial brand email id (Yahoomail, Googlemail or Hotmail), you indirectly promote them, Now you can get a FREE email address that promotes your identity, culture and community as well as gives you the cutting edge tech powered by Google. Find more on http://www.jharkhand.us/free-email-address-on-jharkhandi-com