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Just who is Shibu Soren?
November 28, 2006 20:11 IST
Last Updated: November 28, 2006 20:29 IST
From the exalted position of a cabinet minister to going into hiding in Jharkhand, then getting back his earlier portfolio and finally landing in jail -- Shibu Soren has run the full circle of fame and ignominy.
The 62-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader, who staged a comeback in the Manmohan Singh cabinet in January this year, was embroiled in a number of criminal cases, among them the Chirudi murder case in Jamtara in 1975, which cost him the portfolio of Union Coal Minister in 2004.
Soren was on Tuesday held guilty by a Delhi court for conspiring to kidnap and murder his private secretary Shiv Nath Jha 12 years ago.
Soren, who has remained in the news for the wrong reasons since the formation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, possibly becomes the first Union cabinet minister who has been convicted for murder in post-independent India.
Besides the murder charges, Soren hit the headlines after his name figured in the JMM bribery case during the P V Narasimha Rao regime at the Centre, for which he was acquitted.
Soren is also facing a disproportionate assets case for which the CBI has filed a chargesheet against him in the designated court in New Delhi.
The founder of the JMM, a major political party in that state, Soren's first foray into parliamentary politics was in 1980 when he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Dumka.
Soren became Jharkhand's chief minister for a brief period last year at the head of a coalition government that did not have majority, drawing protests from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. However, he resigned shortly before a trial of strength in the assembly.
The former chief minister was born into a Santhal school teacher's family at Nemra village in Hazaribagh district in 1944. Soren began his political career by launching a fight against money-lenders after his father Somlang's murder. He subsequently formed the Santhal Sudhav Samaj at Dhanbad.
He founded the JMM in 1972 and became its general secretary. Fifteen years later, he took over as its president, a post he continues to hold.
Known among his followers as 'Guruji,' Soren had struggled with other political parties for statehood to be granted to Jharkhand and served as chairman of the Jharkhand Autonomous Council.
Soren is currently chairman of the UPA's steering committee in Jharkhand. His 17-member legislature party is part of the the Madhu Koda-led state government.
Soren saw the JMM at its peak when five of its members -- Suraj Mandal, Krishna Mardi, Sailendra Mahto, Som Marandi and himself -- were elected to the Lok Sabha and supported the Congress government under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1995.
His political career suffered when the JMM bribery scandal surfaced, but it survived this setback as well as the effect of four of Soren's former Lok Sabha colleagues leaving the party.
With his resignation from the cabinet following Tuesday's verdict, it will be the third time he has quit the same ministry in the past two-and-half years. He resigned for the first time after a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in connection with the Chirudih killings and then quit the Union cabinet again to take oath as chief minister of Jharkhand in February 2005.