One ex-CM smiles in Jharkhand amid sulking others

Last Updated 31 December 2019, 02:25 IST

JMM’s Hemant Soren took oath as 11th chief minister of Jharkhand on Sunday, leaving behind a list of former chief ministers, who were once important for the rather turbulent, politically unstable state.

Since 2000, the tribal-state has seen chief ministers who served an average tenure of 1.5 years in the last two decades. Dishom Guru Shibu Soren, in his first term, served the shortest tenure of just ten days. Jharkhand also made history when lone independent MLA Madhu Koda became CM. Hemant Soren is the fifth politician to take oath as CM, this being his second term.

Raghubar Das of BJP, the only chief minister who provided a stable government for five full years, stands defeated. For him, it is more than a defeat, with the party putting the blame entirely on him. He was quick to take it on himself to insulate the powerful combo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Chief Shah from the ignominy of loss.

The party lost badly in tribal seats from where it had got substantial votes in Lok Sabha polls just six months ago. With this, Raghubar Das’s stock in the party has suddenly fallen as the defeat is being sought by his critics on his “arrogance, inaccessibility and loud mouth approach”, while his supporters allege “internal sabotage”. Das’ rival in state politics is former chief minister Arjun Munda, who has inducted in Modi 2.0 cabinet as tribal affairs minister. Many believe it was an attempt to check the Das-Munda rivalry in state politics.

With the BJP’s experiment of fielding a non-tribal face not working in Jharkhand, Munda will be looking at a return to state politics, but the BJP central leadership may have other plans.

Munda was not the first choice of BJP for the CM’s seat. When Jharkhand was formed in 2000, Babulal Marandi, a teacher with a humble background, became the chief minister from the BJP. Soon Marandi had a run-in with leaders of ally JD(U) and lost the backing of the then central leadership. He had to resign after two years while Arjun Munda took over.

Marandi made attempts to bounce back, forming his own party and making and breaking many alliances but he could not succeed. His party won only three seats this time. He clearly has learned from previous elections, in which his party had won eight assembly seats but six of them defected to BJP, providing a better stability to the Das government.

In order to keep his flock together, Marandi announced support to the Hemant Soren government, which on its own had a comfortable majority.

Only smiling former chief minister is Shibu Soren, who served the state for three terms, as his son Hemant sits on the hot-seat for a second time.

(Published 31 December 2019, 02:25 IST)

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