Will Shibu Soren now bargain for his old job?

January 9th, 2009 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Jan 9 (IANS) Known to be a hard bargainer, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren could now demand that he be given back the coal ministry at the centre, having lost the assembly by-poll which will cost him the chief ministership of Jharkhand.Soren, who became chief minister in August last year, this week lost the Tamar assembly by-election. But JMM sources say the 64-year-old politician may ask for the coal ministry which he had to give up in 2006 after being convicted in a murder case.

Soren is in New Delhi to discuss the political scenario after his defeat. At present he is a Lok Sabha member.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi Thursday, he said: “Things will be decided after holding the meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad”.

Asked about the possibility of a cabinet berth in the Manmohan Singh government, he said: “Our demand for two central ministers in the Manmohan Singh government is still alive”.

According to JMM sources, Soren may also try to retain the chief ministership for a family member, that is, getting his wife Rupi Soren or any of his sons installed in the post. But the problem is that none of them are members of the state legislature.

That he can drive a hard bargain was witnessed last year.

In July, the Manmohan Singh government was in danger after Left parties withdrew support to protest the India-US nuclear deal. Despite being an alliance partner of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Soren apparently went into hiding for two days.

The Congress which was hard pressed to get the numbers in the Lok Sabha to prove the UPA’s majority toiled hard to persuade Soren, who finally announced his support to the trust vote.

Soren was coal minister in the UPA government till 2006, but was removed after being convicted in a murder case. He was subsequently acquitted by a high court in 2007.

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