‘Life is a great battle’: Hemant Soren

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.

During his political ascendency, Soren was able to sideline senior JMM leaders such as Stephen Marandi, Simon Marandi and Hemlal Murmu, who quit the party.

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.

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