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Soren: Third time unlucky

india Updated: May 31, 2010 00:54 IST
PTI
JMM chief Shibu Soren

JMM chief Shibu Soren, who was a key figure in the movement for creation of Jharkhand, seems to have no luck as chief minister having to resign for a third time after a short-lived term.

A Lok Sabha MP, 66-year-old Soren was sworn in as chief minister for a third stint on December 30 last year. He had six months till June 30 to enter the assembly.

But he was indecisive about when he would contest a bypoll as he sided with the UPA during a cut motion even though his government ran with the support of the NDA.

A furious BJP then decided to withdraw support on April 28. But the decision was put on hold after Soren offered the Chief Ministership to BJP.

The BJP finally pulled the plug on May 24 reducing his government to a minority after Soren declared he had no intention of resigning and that his government would complete a full five-year term.

Soren refused to resign by May 25 as agreed under a power-sharing deal under which Arjun Munda would lead a BJP-led government for 28 months in the first phase. The JMM would head the government in the remaining period.

Jharkhand Governor M O H Farooq asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly on or before tomorrow. Soren resigned tonight without facing the trust vote.

Soren had gone for a coalition government with the NDA making it clear he would not settle for nothing less than chiefministership, even though he was backed by the UPA in his last two terms.

He was born in Nemhra village in Hazaribagh on January 11, 1944. The murder of his father, Somlang, a school teacher in the 1960s made him take up the battle against exploitation of poor tribals by money lenders.

Soren constituted the Santhal Sudhav Samaj and in the late 1960s set up an ashram at Tundi block in Dhanbad district to take up the cause of the poor and also opposed non-tribal 'outsiders'.

The tribal leader started his political career in the early 1970s. On January 23, 1975, he was allegedly part of a mob that attacked minority-dominated Chirudih village to drive away 'outsiders' leaving 11 dead. He was charged with murder, a case which was to haunt him in his later political life.

A founder member of the JMM in 1972, Soren plunged into Jharkhand movement before taking a temporary break when he took over the chairmanship of the Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council (JAAC) in the 1990s.

Soren was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and subsequently in 1989, 1991 and 1996.

In 2002, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha with the help of the BJP. He won the Dumka Lok Sabha seat in a by-election the same year and resigned his Rajya Sabha seat.

He was re-elected in 2004.

Soren became the Union Coal Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, but was asked to resign following an arrest warrant in the thirty-year old Chirudih case.

After the issue of the warrant, he initially went underground. He resigned on 24 July 2004. He was able to secure bail after spending over a month in judicial custody and was released on bail in September 8 that year.

Soren was re-inducted into the Union Cabinet and given back the Coal ministry on 27 November 2004, as part of a deal for a Congress-JMM alliance before assembly elections in Jharkhand in the February-March 2005.

Soren subsequently became Jharkhand chief minister. But, he failed to prove his majority in the assembly and had to quit the post.

The tribal leader, who was in the forefront of the fight for carving out a separate Jharkhand state from Bihar, returned to the Centre in 2006 when he was made a central minister.

However, he had to quit after he was convicted and jailed for life for the case relating to the murder of his personal secretary Sashinath Jha.

Jha was abducted and murdered reportedly because he had knowledge of the JMM bribery case in which the party’s MPs allegedly took money to save the P V Narasimha Government on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

Soren was acquitted in the murder case by the Delhi High Court in 2007 and also the Chirudih massacre case.

He became chairperson of the state United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in Jharkhand when Madhu Koda became chief minister in September 2006 and took over the reins from him to become chief minister for a second term.

In January this year, Soren had to step down again when he was defeated by an Independent, Gopal Krishna Patar in the Tamar Assembly by-elections. Since he was not an MLA, he had to quit.

Soren's first term as chief minister was from March 2, 2005 which lasted just nine days, while he spent a little over four months in the office during his second term from August 27, 2008. His third term was from December 30 last year which ended today.