I will become chief minister of Jharkhand any time: Soren


New Delhi/Ranchi : Former Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supremo Shibu Soren said in the national capital Tuesday that he would become chief minister of Jharkhand “any time”, sparking celebrations among his supporters and party workers in the state. However, the Congress party did not confirm Soren’s claim officially.

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Speaking to reporters after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, Shibu Soren said: “Sonia Gandhi has supported my demand to become chief minister. I will become chief minister any time.”

However, incumbent Chief Minister Madhu Koda is reportedly not keen to step down. He was till Monday evening unwilling to make way for Soren.

Koda has been offered a “position in the centre” to mollify him in exchange for vacating the chief minister’s post, a minister told IANS.

Soren was earlier supposed to take over as coal minister – a position that he had vacated after being convicted in a 1975 massacre case. But he reportedly changed his mind as the Lok Sabha elections are due in another six-seven months, which would give him very little time as minister. In contrast, the Jharkhand government has three years left.

He was acquitted in March in the Chirudih massacre case. The case relates to the massacre of 11 people, including nine Muslims, in Chirudih village of Jamtara district on Jan 23, 1975, by a mob following a movement launched by Soren to drive away the Dikus (outsiders). Soren was accused of inciting the mob to kill the outsiders.

Meanwhile, in Jharkhand the workers and legislators of JMM were upbeat after news that their leader Shibu Soren would become chief minister.

Soren had been chief minister for seven days after the assembly elections in 2007. He had to step down after he failed get the magic number.

“Shibu Soren fought for a separate state. Shibu gave his life for the people of the region and fought against repression and rights of the people,” said Vinod Pandey, a JMM leader of Jharkhand.

“Shibu Soren must become chief minister. The news coming from New Delhi is like a dream come true for the party,” he said.

The JMM had served a 48-hour ultimatum to the United Progressive Alliance leaders to decide on the post of chief minister for the JMM chief. The party has called a meeting on Aug 17 to decide the future course of action. The JMM had made it clear that it would take drastic steps if Soren was not made chief minister.

In contrast to the celebrations among the JMM, the governor’s house in Ranchi has no information about the developments taking place in New Delhi.

In the 82-member assembly, the UPA has the support of 43 legislators. The UPA legislators include 17 of JMM, nine of Congress and seven of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. The rest belong to smaller parties or are independent legislators.