Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader and former deputy chief minister of Jharkhand Hemant Soren tells Gyan Varma that the formation of a new government is a secondary issue; there should be clarity among political parties on their reason to form a government in the state
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) coalition government in Jharkhand ruled for about two years and four months. Why did the JMM pull out of the government?
When a coalition government is formed, or is serving its term, it has to be handled sensitively. This fact cannot be denied. All parties have their own agenda before they come to form an alliance. JMM’s motive is to represent the views of the people of Jharkhand and, if necessary, hold protests and agitations for their rights. Since the formation of Jharkhand, our stance has been clear — any government that rules the state should work for the betterment of the people. But it is sad things started to move in the wrong direction. We wanted a government with clear policies. But that didn’t happen and we had to take the decision to withdraw our support to the alliance government.
Since Tuesday, you have been in Delhi with your fellow JMM leaders but a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi has not been possible. Are you disappointed that the Congress hasn’t responded to the possibility of government formation? Is the state heading for President’s Rule?
No, absolutely not. We have spoken to a lot of Congress leaders. It will, however, not be right to reveal their names right now. We have conveyed our wishes to the Congress. Now, it is for the Congress and other political parties to respond to our discussions. Till political parties don’t sit together and discuss what the best option available for Jharkhand is, I don’t think it will be correct to comment.
President’s Rule, dissolution of the House, elections and government formation are all part of a democratic set-up and the Constitution. All these are processes and these have their own importance in a democracy. The Jharkhand governor will take a decision on the basis of the political developments in the state.
The JMM had a peculiar relationship with both the Congress and the BJP. The party was in alliance with the BJP in the state, while supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre. Isn’t that opportunistic?
Most senior BJP leaders, including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha, were not in favour of an alliance government with the JMM. Don’t you think the government was weak from the beginning and was destined to collapse?
If from the beginning, BJP leaders felt the alliance government must not complete its full term, I don’t think the current situation in Jharkhand was unexpected.
The JMM said the BJP didn’t honour its commitment on power-sharing in the state.
The power-sharing talks with the BJP are before the people of the state and the country; these are not hidden from anyone. It is the duty of the team leader of the party that’s heading the government to start a dialogue. But unfortunately, there were no discussions initiated or held by the BJP; only statements were made before the media.
The BJP’s statements were such that these closed all options of reconciliation between the two sides. Talking a lot during panel discussions on television news channels was good, but there was a need to solve issues between two parties. There was complete lack of coordination. Negligence, which led to zero coordination between the two sides, led to things worsening. We tried to coordinate with both the central and state leaderships, but neither the BJP’s central leadership, nor that in the state, took our concerns seriously. That further soured relations between the two sides.
If the JMM and the Congress form a government in Jharkhand, how can one be sure it would continue till the next assembly elections?
Which party would form the government in Jharkhand is a secondary issue. In fact, the formation of the new government is, in itself, a secondary issue. What is important is clarity among political parties on the reasons to form a government. Till the time that is not resolved, I don’t think we will be able to work in the right direction. Normally, the government is formed first and agendas and core issues are discussed at a later stage. That leads to differences. Jharkhand has been exploited for the last 12 years because there was no vision for the state. Parties were only concerned about increasing their vote banks.
The BJP has blamed the Congress for the collapse of the alliance between the JMM and the BJP.
Before the JMM decided to move out of the coalition government, we had not spoken to any member of the Congress or any other political party. This decision was taken to safeguard the interest of the state and our party. We are in Delhi to discuss possibilities for the future. The formation of a new government would only happen at a later stage.
Even if the Congress agrees to form a government with the JMM and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the alliance would fall short of the halfway mark of 41. Are you in talks with any other political party?
Independent members of the legislative assembly play a very important role in Jharkhand. The state has a divided mandate, and it is quite possible a similar mandate would be seen in the future. So, political parties will behave according to the mandate given by the people. We will continue our political journey according to the mandate. We should try to protect democracy in the state and respect the mandate given by the people. This is because otherwise, the political uncertainty would continue. If any political party believes elections can happen every six months and one of the political parties would secure complete majority in the assembly, we are prepared for it, too.