Hemant Soren, working president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the largest constituent of the alliance that won a majority in the state elections, is set to be the next chief minister of Jharkhand, after chief minister Raghubar Das of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conceded defeat.
Soren, 44, who has served as chief minister and deputy chief minister of the state in the past, has been credited with keeping alliance partners the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal together through the past year.
Indeed, Soren’s efforts at stitching together an alliance paid off on Monday as his party alone won in 30 seats, its highest tally. Overall, the alliance won in 47 seats.
There are a total of 81 seats in Jharkhand and the halfway mark is 42.
Those who have observed the developments closely over the past one year, said that the Opposition alliance did have its share of ups and downs but Soren ensured that the three parties stayed on track and all disagreements, mostly over seat- sharing, were sorted out behind closed doors.
“Like any other alliance, there were troubles with ours too, which began with seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha elections. He (Soren) allowed the Congress to take the lead in the Lok Sabha elections as it is a national party but ensured that he called the shots when it came to state elections," a senior Congress leader from Jharkhand said, requesting anonymity.
“In a way, his being there ensured we got majority and that we stayed together. His biggest value is that he comes as a chief ministerial face, he is down to earth and not aggressive. That helps, especially when you are in Opposition," the leader said.
Born and brought up in undivided Bihar, Soren spent his early days in Bihar’s capital, Patna. He served as a Rajya Sabha member from 24 June 2009 to 4 January 2010 and as deputy chief minister for more than two years in the Arjun Munda-led government from 11 September 2010 to 8 January 2013 before taking over as Jharkhand’s fifth chief minister in 2012.
Soren is the son of JMM chief Shibu Soren, a former chief minister of Jharkhand who was a key leader in the movement to carve out the state from Bihar in 2010. An unlikely successor of his father’s political legacy, Hemant Soren took over the reins of the party only after the sudden death of his elder brother Durga Soren, who was seen as his father’s natural political heir.
After the 2014 assembly elections, this is the second time that Hemant Soren actively led the party’s campaign. Prior to this, he had remained in his father’s shadow but Opposition leaders feel his consistent criticism of the BJP-led state government in the past five years over state-related issues has helped pitchfork him as a key challenger to Das.
However, one of the challenges that Soren faces is ensuring that a decisive and stable government is in place.
“Today a new chapter will begin for this state. I want to assure everyone that their hopes will not be broken irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and profession," Soren said on Monday.