Ours is a formidable alliance, says JMM chief


He says local issues such as the Jharkhand govt’s bid to amend Acts on land acquisition are set to dominate the polls

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Hemant Soren talks about the coming polls in Jharkhand, his alliance with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal and why he thinks local issues will dominate.

You have managed to sew up an alliance, and a seat sharing agreement with the Congress and the RJD. Is there any rethink with regard to Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM)?

We have managed to get together a formidable alliance and a peaceful seat sharing arrangement with all parties fully on board. I explained all our issues to Tejaswi Yadav of the RJD who understood the logic behind the arrangement. As for the JVM, that chapter is closed. They are not part of our alliance.

What are the campaign issues that you will flag during the polls?

There are many local issues that are important including this government’s attempts to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1876 which pertain to land acquisition. These Acts protect people’s rights over land and the Raghubar Das government had been trying to encroach on those rights. Other than that attempts at diluting the Forest Rights Act and rampant unemployment are issues that we will highlight during the campaign.

The BJP campaigned heavily on issues like the National Register of Citizens and abrogation of Article 370 in the Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana with mixed results. How do you view that strategy and how will you combat it?

The results in Maharashtra and Haryana have made it very clear that national issues find resonance during Lok Sabha polls. Those polls are done, and the people have elected who they want in New Delhi. These are elections for Jharkhand, just as we can’t talk of the Tenancy Acts in Jammu and Kashmir and hope to find resonance, the abrogation of Article 370 cannot be an issue in Jharkhand in the local polls.

The State will see polls in 5 phases. What is your view?

Very immediately, it gives lie to the Raghubar Das and Central government’s claims that they have managed to get a grip on law and order and Left Wing Extremism. If the Election Commission is unable to complete the polls in Jharkhand in one phase, it shows that claim up.

Secondly, there are some districts in Maharashtra too which are Left Wing Extremism affected, so how come they had a single phase poll there that too alongside Haryana.

Finally, it also proves that the BJP’s own reading of their political situation going into the polls is not very positive, hence the feedback of stressed LWE districts to concentrate security personnel. The stretching out of the polls in this manner indicates a desire to tire out the process, and we all know that resource wise the BJP is better off than all others, a multiple phase poll also has financial implications apart from fatigue.

Has the issue of chief ministerial candidate been settled within your alliance, in case you win?

I wouldn’t like to comment on it myself, but Congress’ Jharkhand in-charge R.P.N. Singh had already announced that the leadership issue was clear and that the JMM would be leading the alliance.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 7:49:06 PM |

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