Who can serve the state better than me?’
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Shibu Soren tells NEHA DIXIT why he wants to be Chief Minister of Jharkhand, spurning a chance to join the Union Cabinet
What did Sonia Gandhi promise you when you met her?
I don’t remember what she promised.
Do you feel used for the trust vote? Who can use me?
I have willingly supported the UPA. Who can force me to vote or not vote?
It is alleged that the BJP promised you the Chief Minister’s post in Jharkhand if you voted against the UPA in the trust vote.
The allegations are baseless. We will never support the NDA.
Is the Congress deliberately trying to create an election situation to capture more seats?
You should ask the Congress this question, not me.
Do you feel caught between the Congress-RJD alliance, considering that RJD MLAs were refusing to back you?
This is politics and that’s how everything goes about here. Everything happens when it has to happen. Its exactly like marriage preparations, you look for the groom for years and then suddenly you find him under your own bed.
Why was Lalu Prasad Yadav opposing you? Is it because all the fodder scam cases are under trial in Jharkhand?
That I don’t know. But everybody thinks of his own benefit.
The UPA Government had offered you a post in the Cabinet. So why are you insisting on the chief ministership?
First of all, who said that we were offered a post in the Union Cabinet? It’s a rumour. There have been no such talks with the Congress regarding this. Secondly, I have spent 40 years in Jharkhand serving the people of the state. Who can serve it better than me?
Why can’t you wait to become the chief minister after an electoral victory? Why this sudden hunger for power?
Some 10,000 JMM workers were against Chief Minister Madhu Koda. We had to withdraw support. And anyway, we were the ones who made the government. We helped them run it for two years. We had the right to pull it down if we were not satisfied with them. We helped the UPA also and now is the time for them to fulfill the conditions.
You talked about misgovernance in Jharkhand under former chief minister Madhu Koda. Give some examples.
There are several examples. I can’t enumerate all. He was taking political decisions even when he was in a minority. This was unconstitutional. The government was not working for the interests of tribals, it had not lived upto people’s expectations. The state machinery had become defunct. There was exploitation, administration problems. I am against corruption in the state. Koda was bluffing me, but for how long could he bluff the public?
Former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi, who once called you his guru, was not ready to back you. Why?
He has made his own party now, what else can I say?
But do you trust independents enough, considering out of nine independents, at least three were against you?
Anyone who believes in tribal issues will support me. As I had said earlier, all mati ke laal (sons of the soil) will stand up for me. Moreover, the previous coalition was also formed by independents only. And why would they not support us when we are giving them what they are worthy of?
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 35, Dated Sept 06, 2008