Hemant Soren, the working president of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), has been working to bring together Opposition parties to put up a formidable alliance against the BJP-led NDA. He tells The Indian Express in an interview that throwing out the BJP government is necessary to protect the interests of tribals, Dalits and minorities apart from farmers and youths. Excerpts:
What’s the latest on the Grand Alliance in Jharkhand and Bihar?
We fixed the date for announcing the alliance for Jharkhand for Tuesday. But we wanted leaders of all parties including RJD at the announcement. Today, Shibu Sorenji had some inconvenience. We will announce it before March 24. It could be earlier too.
Is the delay not helping the NDA, which has finalised seat-sharing?
It does not work like that in electoral politics. It does not matter whether you announce alliance a day ahead or after the others.
Have you decided on making the Left parties part of the alliance?
The agreement with the Congress and JVM is final. There is some ambiguity in seats for RJD and Left. Left can be part of the alliance. The Congress will take initiative for it. Personally, I feel, it will be better if the Left is part of the alliance. Click here for election stories
You had a meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. What’s your take on his strategies for Jharkhand?
We will have a common programme and there will be a joint campaign. Jharkhand has more than 50 per cent population of SCs, STs and minorities together. In five years of NDA rule, these communities suffered a lot. Other communities like business community and the youth also suffered. Financial management in our state has been pathetic.
There are local issues like forest rights, hunger deaths and farmer suicides. The BJP tried to fiddle with the reservation policy, diluted Gram Sabhas, etc. Displacement of tribals from forest land will be a big issue. The government’s stand on this issue was not at all encouraging. You see those who are behind the NGOs who fought for this displacement — all of them are linked to corporates.
How do you describe the alliances — NDA and Mahagathbandhan?
PM Narendra Modi says he is a chowkidar. Who wants a chowkidar — only the rich. Look at NDA — it has more than 30 allies. UPA has less. The situation has become so bad for BJP that it has to give sitting seats to its allies. They are so scared after the five-year report card. That’s why they are marketing Pulwama.
How will the Pulwama attack and Balakot airstrike impact the election?
This party or the government kept the youth jobless so that they would listen to their rhetoric on nationalism and communalism… But the rural people are not worried about Pakistan… People have faith in soldiers, not Modi’s 56-inch chest. The PM and the party do not want any data to come out. They stalled release of data and bragged about their achievements on the basis of data they created. The false claims on governance records are lies, desperate attempts to win election. The jingoism will not help the hungry stomachs… All those soldiers were from farming families, not business groups. The farmers are in deep plight. It’s time for the nation to go back to Jai Jawan Jai Kisan slogans.
What are the prospects of the Opposition alliance in Jharkhand?
I can tell you the best striking rate of opposition will be from Jharkhand. Even in the Modi wave, JMM had 75% strike rate.