Rank opportunism

Jharkhand’s newly sworn-in chief minister Shibu Soren has  the fickle history of governments in the state, the opportunism of his allies and his own tainted reputation to contend with in his bid for survival and stable office. The Soren government is the seventh in the state’s nine years of existence and none of them completed its full term. Soren himself is doing his third stint. Both his previous terms were short-lived — the first time he did not secure a majority in the Assembly and the second time he lost the election to become a member of the Assembly. This time also he has to win an Assembly election in six months. Soren wanted to become the chief minister at any cost. When the election threw up a fractured mandate, he declared that his party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, would join any party to form the government.

The BJP was equally desperate after a string of losses and setbacks. Its alliance with the JMM is an act of crass opportunism. The BJP and the other parties in the alliance, the All Jharkhand Students’ Union and the JD(U), had attacked the JMM bitterly during the campaign and painted Soren as one of the country’s most tainted politicians. Now the rationale for the alliance is that the Congress also had kept Soren’s company, even though he was known to be corrupt. It is unfortunate that a politician who is a living symbol of criminality and corruption is an acceptable leader for parties which claim lofty traditions or high political morality.

Soren’s legal problems are not over. He was once convicted in a murder case. Though he was acquitted later, the case is still being pursued in the supreme court. There are other criminal cases against him, at different stages and in many courts. No one would hope that a person of Soren’s background would provide good, clean and efficient administration to a state that has sorely lacked it. Jharkhand is among the country’s richest states but its people are among the poorest. Large areas of the state are controlled by the Maoists. A new government generally starts on a note of hope, but the Soren government will not inspire anybody, either with the politics that went into it or with the personalities that are part of it.

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