Hemant Soren interview: ‘BJP trying, but can’t destabilise Jharkhand govt’
The arrests of three Congress legislators in West Bengal with ₹49 lakh have led to speculation about political realignments in the state.
The arrests of three Congress legislators in West Bengal with ₹49 lakh have led to speculation about political realignments in the state. The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress alliance has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to topple the government. Vishal Kant spoke to Jharkhand chief minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren about the latest political developments, including action by the Enforcement Directorate against two of his close aides. Edited excerpts:
Q) Is the political temperature soaring in Jharkhand? Do you see any attempt to change the government in the state?
A) There is nothing like political temperature soaring in Jharkhand. The “tawa” (frying pan) of Jharkhand is made of a different metal unlike that in other states. People who are trying to heat the pan, they are getting burn injuries. Keep watching what happens in the future. This is not something new that we are facing. Earlier, we were battling with Covid-19. Now we are bracing for a possible drought and looking for solutions to the problems of people, but the Opposition has a different agenda.
Q) While you accuse the BJP of such things, they deny any role, saying even the arrest of MLAs involves the Congress’s corruption and the Trinamool Congress?
A) Actually, it is them (BJP) who need to respond to this. Even the Maharashtra thing (build-up to the coalition government falling) happened in some other state. The pot was boiling somewhere else. They were attempting to cook a similar thing here but they failed. Their design was exposed before the entire country... They also do this to divert the attention from burning issues of the country, be it unemployment, price rise or farmers’ issue. They don’t want to deal with these issues. Their only agenda is Hindu-Muslim, Bharat-Pakistan.
Q) This is the first time MLAs have been arrested in such a circumstance.
A) Many things happen for the first time. It is mere coincidence that it happened in West Bengal. It could have been any other state; it could have been Jharkhand as well. And that is the reason that police are visiting different states to get hold of those involved in it. But what is happening today is very unfortunate. Till now, the army of our country would fight with other countries. Now, police of one state are fighting with the police of another state.
Q) The arrests have been made on the basis of an FIR by a ruling party MLA. What do you have to say?
A) The law will take its own course. Everyone is equal before the law. Be it me or anyone else.
Q) Are you alleging that the police are not being allowed to function across states?
A) Absolutely. They are crushing the voice of political parties, elected representatives and those who speak for the people. At present, it seems they are doing it successfully. But whenever this explodes in the near future, it would be so loud that it would rupture their eardrums. No one should be under any kind of illusion that they can buy democracy with money power. It is not that easy that they can rule the country by such means.
Q) Are you making a direct charge against the BJP?
A) Yes, who else... here or nationally? In Jharkhand, the BJP ruled for about 20 years. What was their achievement? They only exploited the resources and forced people to migrate and played with the future of the youth. And when people brought a tribal youth (Hemant Soren) to power, and when I am seeking solutions to the problems of people in consonance with their sentiments, they are getting pain in their stomach.
Q) You mean to say they are trying to destabilise your government?
A) Let’s not describe it as an attempt to destabilise. They don’t have the capacity to destabilise us because people formed a stable government. But they can’t live without power. Their only work is to either form or topple governments. They made such attempts soon after I came to power. They would make statements every month, after every bypoll.
Q) You recently said you would not budge despite action, including by central agencies?
A) Hemant Soren bows his head only before the people of this state who are the ultimate arbiter in a democracy. As an elected representative, I say it with complete authority that ultimately it’s the people’s mandate that is supreme.
Q) Even when action is being taken against your close aides?
A) Whoever they act against, ultimately these things face the test of law. I have full confidence in the rule of law. In Jharkhand, we have seen all this happening with our supreme leader Guruji (JMM chief Shibu Soren). He had to face much beyond legal cases since the time of the “Andolan” ( campaign for a separate Jharkhand). We all saw ultimately what happened and we got a separate state.
Q) You recently remarked that all ED action being done in Jharkhand is ultimately to target you. Your close political aide Pankaj Mishra has been arrested and your press adviser is being questioned by ED now.
A) Even if they (ED) take four steps, it hardly matters. They have their own style of functioning. What I am confident of is that every question that has come or is set to come our way, each JMM worker knows how to answer them. They will answer them accordingly. When my turn comes, I am ready to face them.