People want me to become chief minister: Soren

July 31st, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Ranchi, July 31 (IANS) Declaring his intention to become Jharkhand chief minister, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren has said people wanted to see him in the post and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would take a decision on the issue after Aug 7. Soren, who provided vital support to the Manmohan Singh government in the July 22 trust vote with his five Lok Sabha MPs and is said to have successfully lobbied for two cabinet berths as well as the chief minister’s post, seems to have stirred fresh controversy in the state.

Hoping for a bigger role for his party in both central and state politics, Soren said: “People of the state want to see me as chief minister. We struggled for a better Jharkhand state where there would be no exploitation. In the present situation, people’s interests have been compromised.”

“The issue will be decided by the PM after Aug 7,” he added while speaking to reporters Wednesday evening.

The Jharkhand government — headed by Madhu Koda, an independent — has the support of 43 legislators in the 82-member assembly. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has 17 JMM legislators, nine from the Congress and seven from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The rest are from smaller parties or are independent.

Soren’s eagerness to become chief minister has led to varied stands.

“Soren should first manage the magic number, then claim the chief minister’s post,” said state Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu.

However, his party colleague, Furkan Ansari, Lok Sabha MP from Godda, spoke in favour of giving Soren a chance to run the government.

Bandhu Tirkey, human resource development (HRD) minister and an independent legislator, was more outspoken: “Guruji’s (as Soren is sometimes referred to) stature is very big in the state; he should become chief minister of Jharkhand.”

Asked Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi, also an independent legislator: “Will Shibu Soren become chief minister with the support of 17 legislators of his own party.”

The RJD has yet to take a stance. Though party chief and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad will decide, the party seems to be split with some RJD legislators in favour of Soren becoming chief minister and others saying that he should strengthen the Koda government.

Soren had to quit as union coal minister in October 2006 after a Delhi court awarded life imprisonment to him in the case relating to the murder of his secretary Shashinath Jha.

Earlier, he had to step down as minister in July 2004 when a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in the Chirudih massacre case. He had quit the central cabinet on his own March 2005 when he was made Jharkhand chief minister for seven days.

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