Now, Soren supports Naxalites
At a time when the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led government in West Bengal is engaged in a raging battle with left-wing radicals, former chief minister of neighbouring Jharkhand Shibu Soren has extended an olive branch to the Naxalites.
Addressing a news conference here on Wednesday, Soren claimed that the Naxalites movement is a people’s movement and he has reasons to support the rebels’ cause.
Aware that any support to the killings of the Maoists could land him in trouble in the wake of a life term awarded to rights activist Binayak Sen, Soren quickly clarified: “ I certainly do not support the killings but I support the (Maoist) movement. It is a people’s movement. Even I have led a movement. There are people in favour of the movement and also against it, all this keeps happening.”
“The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has been fighting for the rights of the tribals. Our party supports anyone fighting for this cause. But certainly, the killing of innocent people cannot be the solution,” he added.
Asked whether deployment of joint forces has been causing problems to tribals, Soren said:
“If the government thinks force is necessary to restore the law and order, it’s fine with me. But at the same time, it has to be ensured that the force is not used for the benefit of some party.”
His observation comes in the wake of Jharkhand Deputy Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s assertion that he was in favour of the withdrawal of Central forces from Naxal-hit areas because he had information that the forces have been helping the CPM to control the sanitised area.
Remarks of the former chief minister and deputy chief minister could trigger further controversy and are likely to provide ammunition to Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee who alleged that armed CPM activists have been taking control of village after village in West Midnapore district once the combined forces have rid them of Naxalites.
Asked if the party has plans to tie up with the TMC in the coming elections to West Bengal assembly next year, he said no decision has been taken and the JMM enjoys quite a “solid base” in the tribal pockets of the state.