Asked if the delay in firming up a grand alliance was giving BJP the upper hand, Soren asserted that it was the saffron party that was on the backfoot in Jharkhand.
The BJP is raising the issue of abrogation of Article 370 provisions in the run up to the Jharkhand Assembly polls as a “ploy” to divert people’s attention from “monumental failures” of the Raghubar Das government, JMM working president Hemant Soren alleged on Sunday. The former Jharkhand chief minister’s sharp attack comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah referred to Article 370 abrogation while listing the achievements of the NDA government 2.0 in their public addresses in the poll-bound state.
Soren said the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) will raise people’s issues in the campaign and promised that if voted to power, his government will ensure 75 per cent reservation for the youth of Jharkhand in private jobs. In an interview to PTI, he said if JMM forms the government, it will ensure five lakh jobs within one year, unemployment allowance to those who are jobless, reserve government tender up to Rs 25 crore for people from the state, implement 50 per cent reservation for women in jobs and 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Asked about the BJP aggressively raising the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the nationalistic fervour around it, Soren said a government which fails to address economic and social crises and key issues that affect everyday lives of citizens, resorts to “creating sharp polarisation in the society”. “Lightning doesn’t strike a place twice and similarly the BJP cannot fool the people all the time. Raising the issue of Article 370 during state assembly polls campaign is nothing but the BJP’s ploy to divert people’s attention from its monumental failures in governance in Jharkhand,” the Leader of the Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly said.
Modi might have been successful in securing an NDA victory based on the post-Pulwama and Balakot nationalistic fervour, but the people of Jharkhand have had enough of this “apathetic” state government and are waiting to throw it out in the upcoming assembly polls, he claimed. Last week, Union Home Minister Shah, while addressing a public meeting in Jharkhand, had said Prime Minister Modi showed Pakistan its place by abrogating Articles 370 and 35A, and established that J&K is an integral part of India. Earlier, Modi, while speaking in Ranchi, had also referred to the government’s step of creating the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, while abrogating Article 370 provisions.
Asked whether an opposition grand alliance will be firmed up for the assembly polls, Soren said his party’s sole aim is to free Jharkhand’s 3.5 crore people from the “insensitive” BJP government. “For this purpose, we are willing to coordinate with all like minded parties to collectively fight the BJP and its divisive policies. JMM was instrumental in the fight to achieve Jharkhand as a separate state, and if necessary, will again engage in the struggle to ensure Jharkhand shines bright on the nation’s map,” he said “The entire Opposition has already had a meeting and once I get over with the ongoing ‘Badlav Yatra’, I will sit again with all party leaders,” the 44-year-old son of JMM chief Shibu Soren said.
JMM, Congress, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and Rashtriya Janata Dal had contested the Lok Sabha polls in alliance earlier this year, but managed to win just two out of the 14 seats. Referring to the understanding of JMM fighting the general elections under the Congress leadership and vice-versa for state polls, Soren said the contours of the alliance for both Lok Sabha and the upcoming Assembly elections were mutually decided by the senior most leadership of both parties. “So, the Congress leadership including its state leadership in Jharkhand should be cognizant about this commitment especially when they make public statements or remarks to the media. I do expect a lot more responsibility from them in this regard,” he said. “We have always been true to our commitments and would reiterate again that we are ready to fight the BJP together,” he said.
Asked if the delay in firming up a grand alliance was giving BJP the upper hand, Soren asserted that it was the saffron party that was on the backfoot in Jharkhand. The BJP looks to seal an alliance with whoever they can when faced with precarious circumstances, he claimed. “Their alliances in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra in Lok Sabha are recent examples. They know that without that it’s difficult to steer through,” Soren said. He said conversations are ongoing to firm up the opposition alliance and there was still time to finalise its shape.
Soren, who has been touring the state as part of his ‘Badlav Yatra’ and connecting with the masses, claimed there was a lot of anger among the people of the state as the Raghubar Das government had failed to meet their aspirations. “Farmers and farm labourers have committed suicide, families have been destroyed, anganwadi workers are on an indefinite fast, para teachers were on a statewide strike and the police brutally lathi charged them as if they were deadly criminals, youth not getting jobs are ending their lives and the state government is giving government jobs to people from outside Jharkhand,” he alleged. “A people’s alliance is ready to teach them (BJP) a lesson.
JMM is just trying to give shape and voice to this collective anger of people against the BJP,” he said. He also said “hunger deaths” and “mob lynchings” had also got a bad name to the state in the last five years. Elections were announced on Saturday for Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies, which means polls in Jharkhand will be held later. The term for the Jharkhand Assembly will end on January 5 and polls are expected to take place by end of this year. The BJP had won 37 of the 81 seats during the 2014 assembly elections and formed government with the help of regional parties. The JMM won 19 and Congress eight seats.