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Hemant Soren: ‘If one does not think about the country, many will lose their lives’

"Many people donated to PM-Cares, but is there any transparency on the expenditure? But for vaccines, they have left it open to states. A state like ours will go bankrupt," says Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Written by Abhishek Angad |
Updated: May 24, 2021 6:58:59 am
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

As the country battles Covid-19, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren speaks to The Indian Express about the relationship between the Centre and states during the pandemic.

What are your expectations from the Centre?

We need 4 crore vaccines, but have received only 40 lakh…. To all oxygen plants, the Centre deputed officers who decide where things should go… But tell me something: is the virus a national problem or a problem for a particular state? Why isn’t the government acting properly? How does the Centre view this issue?

Are you saying that the Centre has left it to the states to handle it themselves?

Na chora hai, na rakha hai (Neither has it left us, nor has it supported us). When we want to import medicines, they don’t allocate it. They allocate it when they feel like it.

You recently tweeted to claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not listen to states. What prompted you to do so?

Within a few minutes of a virtual meeting with PM Modi on May 7, televisions news channels started showing the same. But the truth is, I never got a chance to speak. Thus, it was very political, almost like doing a formality. (But) I am not here to pick a fight. The country is like a ship stuck in an ocean and if one does not think about the country, then many will lose their lives. Only JMM people will not die due to the virus, but so will BJP people. We can have ideological differences, but our ship is stranded in the ocean — first bring it ashore and then fight.

Can you mention specific issues where you feel the Centre is making it political?

Many people donated to PM-Cares, but is there any transparency on the expenditure? But for vaccines, they have left it open to states. A state like ours will go bankrupt. We cannot be compared to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu… Oxygen is going out from my state… The plant that we set up here is now telling us that we need permission from the Centre to use their oxygen. Ideally we should be allowed to fulfil our demands.

The vaccine certificate on the CoWin platform bears the Prime Minister’s image. Now Jharkhand has started to give a physical certificate with your image…

Why did Modi ji put his picture on the certificate?

Once the pandemic is over, will the opposition come together and demand answers from the Prime Minister on the mismanagement of the second surge?

Why only opposition? People sitting in positions of power should also question the government. Their people are also dying…

As a CM, are you looking at the situation on the ground?

Yes, I am going to the people. One need not go to hospitals, but at least to the people and quell hesitancy with respect to vaccines, medicines or testing.

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