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I am trying to end coalition system in Jharkhand: Hemant Soren

"Even we have a problem with coalition government and I am trying to end this," said the Jharkhand CM.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | Ranchi | Published: December 19, 2014 8:31:46 pm
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Q. You have engaged in a war of words with BJP leaders all through this campaign. What do you think the chances are of you going into a post-poll alliance with the BJP?

This is a political question and I will answer it politically. Even we have a problem with coalition government and I am trying to end this. I am clear as to how to go about it – which is why I am fighting on my own. What about them? Are they trying to give the state another coalition government? I agree that coalition governments are a problem. But have they given an alternative? No, but I have. When mandate comes, I don’t know what will happen. We cannot say what could happen.

Q. You have accused the BJP of trying to amend various land acts to promote industries. Don’t we need industries in Jharkhand?

They will definitely amend (the land acquisition and tenancy acts). If they try to acquire land under our CNT and SPT Acts, it will be impossible for them…. Why do we need industries? Can’t we take another route?…. If we stop mining, that itself will be a boost to tourism. There is so much illegal money in mining.

Q Due to your government’s insistence on renewing mining licenses, the Tatas are currently buying iron ore for their Jamshedpur steel plant for the first time in history.

A government cannot concentrate on industries alone. We need to look at our people also…. If we have done anything wrong, then point it out. It is fun to travel ticketless in trains. When the TT catches you, you will be in trouble…. These people have not renewed licenses for 20, 25 years. Is it not illegal?

Q. Do you regret going into an alliance with the BJP, a government in which you were Deputy CM?

My understanding is that the President’s Rule is not good for this state; it is a temporary arrangement. We tried to form a government with the Congress, but they were not willing to help. The BJP was, but in the end it was not a pleasant experience.

Q. When you became chief minister, even leaders in your own party were not convinced about your abilities. Yet, you have performed well.

Everybody was saying, “bachha hai.” Even I thought, “Yaar, it is a big challenge! Kaise hoga yeh.” Then I decided to take it head-on. You must have noticed, we began slowly. I wanted to understand how the system works. What I found out was that it was all horrible inside…. All bureaucrats were behaving like politicians. IAS/IPS officers took VRS 10 days before the elections and contested elections from the BJP. I finally managed to connect this carriage to a horse and began moving. Now, we have to make it run. I was a politician-cum-student. This was my training period; next is main posting.

Q. Senior bureaucrats who have worked with you say your style of functioning is different from your father’s in the sense that you do not trust people easily.

We cannot do anything by trusting people blindly. This is a state where ministers have gone to jail. The (former) CM is also always ins-and-outs from it. You are welcome to look through each of my files over the last 14 months. Tell me if you find anything wrong.

Q. What do you consider your government’s biggest achievements?

A large number of our women migrate to other states and they are attacked, molested in those places. We gave women up to 50 per cent reservation in various government jobs. We were the first state to do that. We decided to provide free higher education in professional courses for girls. In the past, we had a major agitation here. A lot of youngsters left their studies, jobs to agitate and now, most of them are in a bad situation. So, we decided to give pension to all above 65 years of age.

Q But your voters have not been made aware of these progressive decisions you have made.

Yes, the information on what we did has not reached our people. But I tell you, let us come back to power and everyone will know. How will my illiterate people know of these things? This is something on my mind. Look at how officers think – the Election Commission says polling will go on till 5 PM in urban areas but only till 3 PM in rural areas. For as long as officers don’t understand the mindset of the people of Jharkhand, no rules will work.

Q. Women empowerment, clearing the decks for hiring in government jobs – if a different party forms the government, they are likely to take advantage of the groundwork you have done.

If someone else benefits from the work we have done, good for them. It does not matter to me if I am in power or not. What matters is if the people of the state have benefitted. We never played the politics of power; we used to be part of the agitation. It was the BJP which said, “You fight, die. I will sit in government.” They think like the fox. Where else have you heard of a government taking oath at midnight? (after a pause) After Independence, yes.

Q. You tweaked recruitment rules for third and fourth grade employees by introducing language requirements at the district level. Does the state now need a domicile policy, because these changes seem to take care of what the Policy seemed to achieve?

We have not framed a domicile policy. But my government came out with vacancies. We framed the rules in such a way that outsiders cannot get a job there. We notified languages for districts, etc. Those who insist on this rule to be framed should think – for whom are we doing this? No outsiders live in our rural areas…. It is not easy to frame a domicile policy…. Those who keep bringing it up do it to further personal agendas. We don’t need a domicile policy now.

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