After a day without any government, Jharkhand got its 12th chief minister, when senior Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator Champai Soren took oath on Friday. The Champai-led Gathbandhan government will prove its majority on Monday. Now it is almost certain that even after the arrest of Hemant Soren, the gathbandhan government will continue in the state. Despite all the challenges it faced, the alliance may complete its 5-year tenure.
But now the bigger question doing the rounds in Jharkhand is: Did the arrest of former chief minister Hemant Soren and the entire three-year-long episode make the son of Shibu Soren a taller leader in the state? The way JMM’s executive president handled the crisis has impressed political observers.
The crisis on the chief ministerial post began three years back when allegations were made about the mining lease license obtained by Hemant Soren as chief minister. Since then it was said that Soren would lose his chair. But when Soren resigned, it was not because of a mining license issue but allegedly buying 8.5 acres of land, which according to legislator Vinod Singh, could not be purchased.
Soren’s handling of the crisis
The most significant aspect of this episode is the former chief minister’s defiant stance despite immense pressure from both the investigating agency and the media.
Before getting arrested, Soren met ED officials twice at his residence.
Soren left for Delhi and ED officials could not trace him to the national capital. He later appeared at his residence in Ranchi. Soren did not use a flight and reached the state capital by car. He then not only appeared before the ED but handed over his resignation personally to the Governor.
Later, Soren issued a letter suggesting the name of the leader of the gathbandhan, Champai Soren, and shared a video message for the people of Jharkhand. His smiling picture during the meetings and while being in ED custody were shared.
A Ranchi-based journalist, Ravi Prakash, tweeted the video message of Hemant Soren and wrote that it was a very sharp move by the outgoing chief minister, which makes him taller than his image.
After the arrest, if some were making fun of his situation, there was another narrative going on in his favour saying that he did not bow before the BJP like many leaders of India and the list of work the Hemant Soren government did in its four-year tenure.
Wiped the dynasty politics allegation
The decision to appoint Champai Soren as the new leader is seen as a strategic move. Notably, opposition leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party had suggested Kalpana Soren, Hemant’s wife, as his successor.
An FIR was registered against CRPF personnel for forcibly entering his residence.
“The case is baseless, and Hemant Soren is aware of it. He is very confident mentally and physically,” one of the senior legislators in the Jharkhand assembly, Vinod Singh, told eNewsroom.
Speaking on the broader context, Singh added, “Corruption is not an issue. The reality is, whoever is with the BJP is considered corruption-free, and if one does not go along with the BJP, he is termed corrupt.”
As the Lok Sabha election is only a couple of months away, and many INDIA block chief ministers may face a similar situation, Hemant Soren’s story of defiance may be told and retold to infuse confidence in the INDIA.