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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019: ‘State has its own problems, they need to be discussed’, says JMM leader Hemant Soren

JMM leader Hemant Soren says that nationalism as a poll plank will rob Jharkhand of a chance to speak about its issues. Assembly elections will take place in the state in five phases from November 30.

assembly-elections Updated: Nov 03, 2019 06:19 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader  Hemant Soren
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren(PTI )

Former Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren, in an interview to Hindustan Times, said that nationalism as a poll plank will rob the state of a chance to speak about its issues. Edited excerpts:

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, you had said that in the JMM-Congress alliance, the Congress will be an “elder brother”. Is it the other way around for JMM now?

As far as an alliance is concerned, like-minded parties have been involved in a lot of discussions. While I cannot discuss the arrangement right now, I can say that we will make it public on November 6 or 7.

Will the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha of former chief minister Babulal Marandi be a part of the alliance?

Presently, the political scenario is such that all like-minded parties have the support of each other and we have to sit down, do our homework and come up with the best formula. There are quite a few people in the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). We are all talking and an announcement is round the corner.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s nationalism and Article 370 election plank has made it difficult for a lot of regional parties. How will the JMM navigate it?

As far as national issues are concerned, the people of India gave their mandate a few months ago in the Lok Sabha elections, This is a state election. A state has its own problems and they need to be discussed. If we do not talk about Jharkhand’s issues now, when will we have the chance to speak about them?

What, according to you, are the key election issues in Jharkhand this year?

The BJP’s poll plank the last time was “bhay and bhrashtachar-mukt sashan” (a government free of fear or corruption). If the BJP has indeed achieved its vision, and has tackled Maoist violence, then why does the Election Commission of India need to conduct polls in five phases for an 81-member Assembly? It clearly shows that, contrary to their promises, they could never uproot Maoist violence from the state.

As far as seat-sharing among alliance partners is concerned, is the JMM open to giving up a key position if the situation arises?

The first step for all of us is to come together to work out way to keep the BJP from forming a government. And, we must all come forward and do what it takes to achieve that. There’s a formula for the opposition partners, and we will adhere to that.

Will you be the CM face for the opposition alliance in the state?

That is not a question I can answer. Our alliance partners are better suited to answer that question. But every plane has a pilot, and every army has a commander.

How do you plan to withstand the BJP’s electoral intensive, which many regional forces have succumbed to?

The BJP has power and resources on its side, but we have a befitting reply in store for them.