The son who would be CM

National

The moment that began the Jharkhand crisis was a reflection of who stands where within the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

Hemant Soren, till then deputy chief minister and the JMM's legislature party leader, announced on January 7 the result of two days of brainstorming by party leaders: "We talked to our coalition partners (BJP)... In the absence of a consensus, the party decided we should withdraw support to this government."

He did not mention a time for withdrawal; he said the JMM had authorised its president to make that call. The message was ambiguous: the JMM would withdraw support, but there was a possibility of negotiations with the BJP.

Barely 15 minutes later, Hemant returned, this time with father Shibu Soren by his side, and without ambiguity. "We have decided to withdraw support to the government. It was too late to go to the governor today; we will go tomorrow," said Shibu, Guruji to his supporters.

The widely held perception has been that Hemant, 37, has been the prime motivator behind the latest controversy. He risked splitting the party over withdrawing support to the Arjun Munda government, but had his way. "If we have a chief minister, it will be Hemant," asserts a senior JMM leader who has worked with both father and son.

And yet there are no plans of making Hemant the JMM president. Shibu is not even considering relinquishing that position, not least because his son is nowhere as charismatic as him. "Watching Guruji these days, many may have concluded that he has grown old, weak, that he is no longer in control," said a source who has closely watched father and son work. "This is very wrong. Guruji is very much at the centre of things; no decision is taken without his approval."

Land rights activist Sanjay Basu Mallick, who worked with the senior Soren earlier, agreed. "The core of the JMM remains the same, with the same people calling the shots."

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