'Life is a great battle': Hemant Soren
Jharkhand's youngest CM was arrested by the ED in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land fraud after he resigned as chief minister
From taking charge of Jharkhand as its youngest chief minister at 38 toi being arrested immediately by the Enforcement Directorate immediately upon his resignation, Hemant Soren has had a chequered career.
Not the first choice of his father, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supremo Shibu Soren, to inheriting his political legacy, Hemant was groomed to enter politics only after his elder brother Durga died of suspected kidney failure in 2009.
'This is but a pause. Life is a great battle. I have fought every moment, I will fight every moment but I will not accept the alms of compromise,' Hemant Soren cited on X, sharing a poem in Hindi soon after his arrest.
'The pain of my people's hearts I will not abandon. I will not accept defeat...' the poem ends, and Soren signed off with 'Jai Jharkhand!'
Who is Hemant Soren?
Born on 10 August 1975, at Nemra village near Hazaribag, Hemant Soren completed his intermediate level from Patna High School and later joined Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, in Ranchi, but dropped out. Known for his love of badminton, bicycles and books, Soren has two children with wife Kalpana.
Two years later, the BJP–JMM government collapsed and President's Rule was imposed in the state.
His first stint as chief minister was, however, short-lived as the BJP seized power in 2014 and Raghubar Das became chief minister. He went on to become the leader of the opposition.
In 2016, when the BJP-led government tried to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, to allow leasing out of tribal land for non-agricultural purposes, Soren led a massive agitation that paid him dividends three years later.
With the support of his allies, the Congress and RJD, he stormed to power in 2019, with his JMM party alone winning 30 assembly seats, its highest tally ever in the 81-member House.
While Murmu and Simon Marandi joined the BJP, Stephen Marandi floated a party along with the first BJP chief minister of the state, Babulal Marandi. Stephen later returned to the JMM, accepting Soren as the party's leader.
Soren's tenure in the Chief Minister's Office has not been smooth, however.
In 2022, he was staring at disqualification as an MLA, which would have resulted in him losing the chief minister's post, as a mining lease given to him was allegedly renewed after he became the state's chief minister.
That year, three Congress MLAs from the state were caught with nearly Rs 49 lakh in cash in neighbouring West Bengal. The Soren-led ruling coalition had alleged that they were part of an attempt by the BJP to topple the government.
Amid the conundrums, Soren established himself as a strong voice of the state's dominant tribal community. From ensuring doorstep delivery of services with initiatives such as 'Apke Adhikar, Apki Sarkar, Apke Dwar (your rights, your government, on your doorstep)', to expanding the state government's pension scheme to include more people, social welfare has been a trait of his regime.
He has also been a strong advocate for the economic benefits of mining activities in the state reaching the tribals.
Soren, now 48, was arrested in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land fraud after he resigned as chief minister yesterday, 31 January. Senior JMM leader Champai Soren was named his successor.
Implications beyond JMM & Jharkhand?
Top leaders of the opposition bloc INDIA met on the evening of 31 January after the resignation and arrest of the former Jharkhand chief minister.
The meeting at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's residence was attended by Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) supremo Sharad Pawar and DMK leader T.R. Baalu, among others.
Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is a constituent of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), formed by more than two dozen opposition parties to take on the BJP unitedly in the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May.