Leader of Opposition and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren talks to Abhishek Angad about the Assembly elections, the ongoing protests over the citizenship law, and why he is lending support to BJP rebel Saryu Roy, who is contesting against Chief Minister Raghubar Das. Excerpts:
Your father Shibu Soren lost from Dumka in the Lok Sabha polls. You also lost from Dumka Assembly constituency in 2014. The Opposition did poorly in all tribal seats in the last elections. Are people rejecting you?
The BJP has used all its resources in its campaigning. We did not have anywhere near such resources. That was not (victory in) election, but loot. Despite losing we got a lot of votes; that means people are not rejecting us.
Former CM Babulal Marandi’s harkhand Vikas Morcha (P) is fighting alone. Will it cut into Opposition votes?
People are wise now. For example, what is the BJP doing? Sarkar banate hain saath saath, ladte hain alag alag (They form the government in alliance but contest separately). The JD(U), AJSU, LJP are with BJP in power but they are contesting elections on their own in Jharkhand. They want votes to be split, but we have strategised accordingly.
You supported Saryu Roy, rebel BJP leader who is contesting as Independent, even though the opposition alliance had a candidate in that constituency, Jamshedpur East.
I was not supporting Roy but his thought process and his ideas. He criticised the Raghubar Das government’s policies, and I supported that. And I have tried to ensure anyone against the government should stay together. I had put a word among all opposition parties to support Roy, but others did not agree.
The BJP says only its government can curb Maoist violence.
Why? Does the BJP have any special power? Has God given them extra blessings? The thing is, they are the ones who keep Maoism (alive), and use it for their own benefits. There are fake encounters and fake surrenders. Naxal paida nahi hoga to kya hoga; bhooka pet log kya karenge? Ya toh doosre ko marega ya khud marega (Why will Naxalism not grow? What will people do on empty stomach? They will either kill others or kill themselves).
In the ongoing protests over the citizenship law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed the Congress and its allies for stoking fire and said that the BJP is saving the country. How do you react?
The BJP is not saving the country; it is selling the country. The BJP is deviating from core issues; the party does not want to talk about employment and other issues impacting Jharkahand. The BJP does not have any issue to talk about other than religion. Its leaders think there is some sort of virus that has affected the country and they want to program the country according to their own will…. Now Modi government will blame even Jawaharlal Nehru for stoking fire.
Do you foresee a repeat of Maharashtra in Jharkhand?
That already happened in the last elections (in 2014, the BJP formed the government with AJSU but JVM(P)’s six MLA merged with BJP later, claiming that the legislative party had merged). It will not repeat. Last time we could not read them. This time we have done solid preparations.
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