An ‘accidental’ Chief Minister bids to save chair, become son of soil
An accidental politician, Soren was pushed to the centre stage of Jharkhand politics after the death of his elder brother Durga Soren.
Published: 28th August 2022 07:54 AM | Last Updated: 28th August 2022 07:54 AM | A+A A-
RANCHI: When Hemant Soren assumed power as Jharkhand Chief Minister in December 2019, he introduced two significant changes: the first was to make the administration, earlier a laggard, more responsive to work, especially those related to boosting the state’s development. And the second -- more personal -- was to turn out in well-tailored western clothing.
Even today, faced with the toughest political challenge since the electoral victory in the winter of 2019 — he stares at a likely disqualification for the office of profit case related to the mining lease issue — Soren, attired in a crisply ironed black shirt, was all smiles as he took a selfie with all his coalition UPA legislators to a resort in nearby Khunti.
So far, the MLAs, including those from the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), appear to be solidly backing the 47-year-old chief minister. The move suggests that Soren expects the BJP to aggressively pursue an altogether familiar line of politics in recent times. It may well be an astute move. An accidental politician, Soren was pushed to the centre stage of Jharkhand politics after the death of his elder brother Durga Soren.
Born to the veteran tribal leader and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha patriarch Shibu Soren and Rupi Soren, Hemant is working hard to establish himself as a son of the soil and true inheritor of his father’s tribal legacy. Hemant’s entry into electoral politics was rough, if not uninspiring. Failing to take a degree in Mechanical Engineering from BIT Mesra, Ranchi, Hemant contested the 2005 Assembly elections from the Dumka constituency where he was defeated by a party rebel, Stephen Marandi.
But he found himself propelled to the JMM’s senior leadership in 2009 when his elder brother Durga Soren, who was then seen to be the natural heir to Shibu Soren’s political legacy, passed away, but not before winning the Dumka assembly seat. The Soren family, for all intents and purposes, is “fully” political. Hemant’s younger brother, Basant, is an MLA from Dumka. His sister-in-law and Durga’s widow, Sita, represent the Jama constituency.
It is not that the JMM since Hemant became Chief Minister, has been without its share of disaffection — in the party as well as the family. But Hemant is said to have worked out a roadmap in the event that he actually gets disqualified. He has quietly groomed his wife, Kalpana, who might emerge as a potential contender as chief minister if the disqualification by the Election Commission sticks. Before he was sworn in as Jharkhand’s eleventh chief minister, Soren was the leader of the opposition in the state assembly. He was India’s youngest chief minister — between July 2013 and December 2014 — but not before being a Rajya Sabha MP between 2009 and 2010.
While at the helm as chief minister, Hemant succeeded in conducting four Jharkhand Public Service (Civil Services) Examinations pending for several years. Recently, the Jharkhand cabinet also approved the creation of around 50,000 posts of assistant teachers for primary and middle schools, besides distributing appointment letters to thousands of candidates in the last two-and-a-half years. Hemant has succeeded in winning the hearts of Jharkhand’s indigenous people by strongly opposing the amendments to the 1908 Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and the contentious 1949 Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT). The proposed amendments sought to give rights to tribals to make commercial use of their land lying unused for ages, while ensuring that land ownership did not change.
A reluctant leader pushed into the arena
Hemant Soren was accidentally pushed into senior JMM leadership in 2009 after the death of his elder brother Durga Soren, who actually was considered to be the natural successor of Shibu Soren.