Soren to remain Jharkhand CM, lead alliance in polls, say leaders after meeting

Ranchi : The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance held a legislative party meeting in Ranchi on Wednesday, after which the leaders ruled out a possibility of a change of guard and emphasised that chief minister Hemant Soren would continue to lead the alliance government, completing its full five-year term, people close to the developments said.

The legislative party meeting, chaired by Soren at his residence and lasting around two hours, deliberated on all potential scenarios in light of the Directorate of Enforcement (ED)’s actions against the chief minister and their possible political implications, leaders said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, senior Congress legislator Pradeep Yadav said, “Hemant Soren is and will remain the chief minister. We will respond fittingly to all attempts being made to destabilise his government.”
Another Congress legislator, Amba Prasad, said that the discussion in the meeting did not include the issue of appointing Kalpana Soren as the next CM.
JMM leader and water resources minister Mithilesh Thakur stated, “All reports suggesting a change of leadership are part of media trial and opposition conspiracy. Hemant Soren will not only complete his current five-year term but also secure another term in 2024.”

Alliance leaders indicated that at the start of the meeting, the chief minister clarified that all reports suggesting he might step down and transfer power to someone else “were false”.
The meeting also discussed JMM’s Gandey MLA Sarfaraz Ahmed’s resignation on December 31, which sparked speculation about a change of guard.
It was discussed that Ahmed might have been compelled to tender his resignation to facilitate the election of Kalpana Soren.
“This move could be utilised if Hemant Soren faced trouble due to his reluctance to appear before the ED despite several summons,” a party leader said.
Regarding the sudden Ahmed’s resignation, Congress legislator Anup Singh, who is considered close to the chief minister, said it was a precautionary measure. “Prevention is better than cure. This government is prepared for any eventuality,” he added.

Hours before the alliance’s legislature party meeting, Jharkhand Congress in-charge Ghulam Ahmed Mir chaired a meeting of Congress legislators and expressed full support for the Hemant government.
The meeting was convened after the ED sent the seventh summons to chief minister Soren for questioning in matters related to a land deal.
They asked him to mention a suitable time and place for questioning within two days to ensure the exercise could be completed within seven days. Instead of providing a time and place, the CM replied to the probe agency, requesting a proper summons and alleging it was facilitating a media trial against him.
JMM general secretary and state coordination committee member Vinod Pandey said that the purpose of the meeting was to update all ruling party MLAs about the current political situation and prepare them to face any scenario.

“The meeting was very productive, with ruling party legislators expressing their solidarity with Hemant Soren. Those who couldn’t attend in person joined through video conferencing and showed their support,” Pandey said.
“The meeting also dispelled speculations about Ahmed’s resignation and the appointment of Kalpana Soren as chief minister. Ahmed clarified that he resigned due to personal reasons, and no discussions occurred regarding Kalpana Soren’s appointment. Instead of focusing on these speculations, the discussion revolved around the ‘Sarkar Aapke Dwar’ program. The CM expressed willingness to continue it in the future, ensuring that the benefits of government schemes reach the common people,” Pandey said.
Rajya Sabha MP Mahua Maji, present at the meeting, echoed the sentiment, stating, “The meeting decided that every effort would be made to ensure that Hemant Soren’s government remains in power again in 2024.”