Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren will have to face a united and determined Opposition when he decides to contest a by-election to become a member of the Legislative Assembly, as all Opposition parties have decided to put up a consensus candidate against him, Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Kumar Balmuchu said on Monday.
In order to retain the chief ministership, Soren must be elected to the assembly as a Member of Legislative Assembly before the end of June. The Opposition is ready to sink its differences and oppose Soren no matter where he contests from, even if it is the Santhal Parganas area, his home turf, Balmuchu said.
The Opposition's move is significant as in January 2009, Soren had to face a major political embarrassment -- he had tried to enter the Legislative Assembly through the Tamar by-election and lost the election by a huge margin of 9,000 votes and had to step down from the chief ministership. Obviously, by ensuring that the Opposition votes are not divided, the Congress is hoping the chief minister loses the by election -- and the chief ministership -- a second time.
He also said Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) chief and Member of Parliament Babulal Marandi, a former Jharkhand chief minister, would be promoted as the united Opposition candidate against Soren, should Soren contest from Santhal Parganas. He added that the Congress will field its candidate if the chief minister opted for a seat outside the Santhal Parganas.
When reminded of the past friendly relationship between the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Mrocha, Balmuchu claimed that Soren had not done anything praiseworthy during the last three months in power. Soren, meanwhile, said he had not yet decided from where he would contest a by-poll. "There is nothing to worry about. I will take a decision very soon," he said.
The JMM chief, who had taken oath as the chief minister on December 30, has to be elected as an MLA before the end of June, according to constitutional requirement.
Stating that Soren had recently said he was unaware about Operation Green Hunt, Balmuchu noted such a childish statement from a chief minister was tarnishing the image of the state.
Asked whether the anti-Naxal operation was a failure in Jharkhand, Balmuchu said it was not a question of success or failure, but the chief minister should have thorough knowledge of the happenings in his state.
The JPCC chief expressed concern over increasing attacks on Congress workers by Maoists in Jharkhand. Referring to the recent killing of Dalbhumgarh block Congress president Gobardhan Mahali, he said violence was not a solution to any problem.
Balmuchu denied that JPCC has issued any directive asking its party workers to avoid visiting Naxal-affected areas in the state."Certainly, our party workers in rural pockets were feeling insecure but they were not demoralised," he said, adding a party delegation led by him would meet the director general of police in Ranchi to discuss the issue on Tuesday.