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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Young CM Hemant Soren faces many challenges in Jharkhand

B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times  Ranchi, July 13, 2013
First Published: 12:06 IST(13/7/2013) | Last Updated: 12:09 IST(13/7/2013)

July 13 will be seen as the rising of yet another scion in the country’s federal political system.

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At 37 — he will turn 38 on August 8 — Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator Hemant Soren, ex-chief minister Shibu Soren’s second son, was sworn in as Jharkhand’s ninth chief minister on Saturday.

The swearing-in ceremony took place at 9.30 am in the lawns of the Raj Bhawan on Saturday. Concurrently, the President’s rule would be lifted from the state on July 18.

The Congress’ Rajendra Singh and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) legislator Annapurna Devi were also sworn in as ministers. Soren, who has claimed support of 43 legislators, will head a coalition which comprises the JMM, Congress, RJD and independents.

The senior Soren had been Jharkhand chief minister thrice. Due to falling ill-health, he and his party decided to pass on the baton to Hemant, a first-time legislator and former Rajya Sabha MP, thereby giving rise to another dynastic politics in the country.  

Soren has become the third youngest chief minister of the 13-year-old state. His predecessors Arjun Munda, 45, and Madhu Koda, 42, had occupied the coveted chairs at the age of 35 and held the rare distinction of becoming the country’s youngest chief ministers.

A young and educated politician, Soren will have the biggest challenge of leading scores of first-time legislators — at least 50% legislators in the coalition are first-timers. But he and his family are unperturbed.

“We’ll walk hand-in-hand. Nobody in the government would feel ignored or neglected. We’ll ensure that interest and respect of every member in our coalition is protected. However, development of the state would be paramount for us,” said the chief minister, trying to hide the in-fighting over ministerial berths.

There are several aspirants for the 12 ministerial berths, in both the JMM and Congress. While the Congress high command in Delhi has so far cleared only one name, that of Rajendra Singh, Soren is struggling hard to convince a couple of senior legislators of his party adamant on becoming a minister.

Besides, he has the biggest challenge of keeping the flock of six independents intact. All of them have apparently bargained for a place in the cabinet and can even go to extent of pulling down the government should they find their interests compromised.

The AJSU Party, with its six legislators, then might turn out to be a saviour for the Soren government. Remaining out of a government for the first time, the AJSU leadership is keeping its fingers crossed.

The cabinet expansion in all probability would be held after the trust vote slated for July 16. 

The Congress is playing a smart game by stressing that it is a JMM government being formed with their support.

The high command had strictly directed its leaders in the state to keep a low profile and refrain from celebrations after government formation. Though being an equal partner in the government, no big Congress leader has flown from Delhi to attend the swearing in ceremony on Saturday.

It is a paradox that its leaders like P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee -- now President of India -- had attended rival Mamta Banerjee’s swearing-in ceremony in 2011, and Motilal Vohra and Pawan Bansal attended UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s swearing-in March last year.

“It’s a proud feeling that my young husband is going to shoulder such a big responsibility,” Soren’s wife, Kalpana Soren said, exhuding confidence that he would deliver the desired results.


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