Sorens consolidate political walls

Every time Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacks Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and his father, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supremo Shibu Soren, with the “baap-bete ki sarkar” taunt, Soren Jr asks his voters in Dumka: “Is this my fault that I was born to a revolutionary who fought for tribals and championed the cause of the poor?”

The JMM public meetings at Dumka, the headquarters of the Santhal Parganas, are fast turning into a battleground between Hemant Soren and Modi.  While the chief minister, who represents Dumka Assembly seat, is fighting to retain it, Modi is leaving no stone unturned to make a foray into the Santhal Parganas, which has so long been Shibu Soren and the JMM's impregnable fortress.

The region has 17 other Assembly constituencies apart from Dumka, mostly represented by the JMM in the outgoing House.

In fact, in the April-May general elections, the BJP won 12 out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, but the two seats it could not bag were Dumka and Rajmahal, both in the Santhal Parganas. It is this fortress which Modi is eyeing to capture in the Assembly election, and has therefore decided to hold a rally in Dumka on December 15.

The BJP candidate from Dumka, Louis Marandi, had lost to Hemant in the 2009 Assembly polls by a slender margin of around 2,500 votes. The saffron camp is now banking heavily on Modi to defeat Hemant in his father’s fiefdom.

Having calculated the risk factor at Dumka, Hemant is also contesting from the Barhet constituency, in the adjoining Sahebganj district. The JMM's logic is that it could do well in and around both constituencies and shore up the party’s strength in the Santhal Parganas.

And if Hemant wins from both seats, the seat he vacates will be used to launch Shibu’s third and youngest son Basant Soren into electoral politics.

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