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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

‘Grand alliance meet after Holi will decide on seat-sharing’: Hemant Soren

Hemant Soren spoke to Kumar Uttam on the possibility of Opposition parties coming together, the role of Left parties and the impact of the post-Pulwama air strikes. Edited excerpts:

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 17, 2019 08:11 IST

Hindustan Times
JMM chief says the alliance of Congress, JVM, RJD and Left parties will emerge victorious in Jharkhand
JMM chief says the alliance of Congress, JVM, RJD and Left parties will emerge victorious in Jharkhand(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

Hemant Soren, the working president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) that was founded by his father Shibu Soren, said on Saturday that Opposition parties had “officially sealed” an alliance in Jharkhand ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The claim came after he attended a meeting with Congress leaders RPN Singh, Ajoy Kimar, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Hemant Soren and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Babulal Marandi at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi. Earlier, following the meeting, Hemant — he was earlier Jharkhand’s fifth and youngest chief minister — spoke to Kumar Uttam on the possibility of Opposition parties coming together, the role of Left parties and the impact of the post-Pulwama air strikes. Edited excerpts:

You have met Congress president Rahul Gandhi. What is the status of the alliance in Jharkhand?

I have told the Congress president that we need to stay together to defeat the BJP. He is also of the same view. We have discussed details of the alliance and negotiations are almost done. There will be an agreement between the Congress, JMM, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Rashtriya Janata Dal.

If you have finalised an alliance, why haven’t you made an announcement yet?

Not every constituent was present in Delhi today [Saturday]. We also want to make an announcement in the presence of JMM patriarch, Shibu Soren. He is an iconic figure and Jharkhand politics revolves around him. All constituents of the grand alliance will meet in Ranchi after Holi to make an announcement about seat-sharing, in front of Shibu Soren. In the meantime, we will also discuss the possibility of inducting the Left parties in the Opposition alliance.

Is there talk about taking Left parties along in Jharkhand?

Yes. There are about half a dozen Left parties who have pockets of influence in Jharkhand. I would want them to join the Opposition bandwagon in our effort to defeat the BJP. I discussed the issue with Rahul Gandhi, and he is open to the idea of having the Left in the Opposition alliance in Jharkhand. There are certain issues that need to be sorted out, and we will look into them.

What are the issues that will decide whether or not the Left is part of the Opposition alliance in Jharkhand?

The Left Front has staked claim on seats such as Hazaribagh, Koderma and Dhanbad. Former chief minister Babulal Marandi of JVM will be the alliance candidate from Koderma, so the Left parties will have to give up their claim on his seat if they want to join the alliance. We have asked Left Front leaders to discuss among themselves and identify one seat they are willing to contest. If they are able to arrive at a consensus on one seat, while giving up their claim on others, we can have an agreement with them. This will immensely help our plan to defeat the BJP.

How is the Opposition alliance positioned in Jharkhand?

Several surveys conducted by media houses, which have given a lead to the BJP over us nationally, have projected a victory for the Opposition in Jharkhand. We feel the situation will be better than what TV channels have predicted. Opposition parties have won 13 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in the past, and given the present political situation and Opposition unity in the state, I am confident of repeating the same.

What makes you so confident about an Opposition victory in Jharkhand?

It’s a double whammy for the BJP. There is anti-incumbency against the Modi government on issues such as lack of jobs, and the Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand is hugely unpopular because of its policies against the indigenous people. Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minority communities constitute about 50% of Jharkhand’s population. They do not affiliate themselves with either the Modi government or the Raghubar Das government. The poll results will surprise all political pundits.

The IAFs strike in Pakistan’s Balakot after the Pulwama terror attack seems to have helped the BJP recover some ground. Do you think it will have an impact in Jharkhand?

Modi and the BJP will try to keep the pot of patriotism and nationalism boiling. When the bodies of soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack reached their villages, BJP leaders made a celebration out of it.

They followed the bodies of jawans to their villages. Most of the jawans come from a farmer background.

The farmers are committing suicide on the farms and jawans are being killed on the border but the leadership in Delhi is creating a war hysteria for electoral benefit. I would tell Modi to do his job and not thump his chest for something that is the job of the armed forces. Let jawans do their work, and Modi should answer on issues that are his responsibility. We will not let them avoid these issues and create a war cry for electoral gain. People are wise enough.

What are the issues you will play up?

Lack of jobs, displacement of tribals, land rights, widening gap between rich and poor and many more. People will vote on these issues.

First Published: Mar 17, 2019 08:11 IST

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