Ranchi: Former Chief Minister of Jharkhand and Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren in an exclusive interview to eNewsroom made major allegation of scam being run by Raghubar Das led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jharkhand. On January 17, when leaders from all the opposition parties of Jharkhand met for the first time at his Ranchi residence to discuss about the future of the Mahagatbandhan, the Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha (JMM) leader not just talked about his recently concluded Sangharsh Yatra (third phase), how BJP is saving its MLA accuse of sexual harassment and extortion, him accepting the BJP challenge to debate on Mandal Dam and how the GDP of Jharkhand was better during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in comparison to the present Raghubar Das led BJP government. Following are excerpts from the conversation:
eNewsroom: What was the purpose of your Sangharsh yatra in Jharkhand?
Hemant: We had two reasons for conducting the Sangharsh Yatra in Jharkhand – one being organizational and other political. Coming to the first reason, this yatra was organized to strengthen the party and energise our cadres. Secondly, through this we wanted to meet the common man and tell them about the anti- people work being done by the present government and also how we had performed when we were in power.
Being the opposition, we have duties to perform not just inside the assembly but also outside too. This interaction with the masses will definitely help the opposition to uproot those in power in upcoming elections.
eNewsroom: The third phase of the Sangharsh Yatra has received good response from the public but it attracted criticism from BJP too. They have alleged that you are spreading falsehood through your yatra. They even challenged you for an open debate on the issue of Mandal Dam.
Hemant: I am accepting their challenge for a public debate. However, when I had challenged the chief minister for a debate, they never fixed a date.
Why are they not telling the truth about the Mandal Dam to the people? About 70 to 80 percent of the dam’s water will be going to Bihar. Between one and half to two lakhs hectares lands of Bihar will be benefitting from the Mandal Dam, but in Jharkhand only 10000 to 12000 hectares of land will get irrigated. Why are they refraining from telling this to the common man? What wrong am I doing by informing them? I am not spreading any misinformation, but telling them about the documented details of the Mandal Dam project.
Watch the interview of Hemant Soren:
eNewsroom: It is not just the Mandal Dam, the power generated in Adani’s Godda power plant will be sent to Bangaldesh.
Hemant: It’s known to all that BJP works for some big industrialists and businessmen. They serve them on the expense of the state. They are least bothered about the state getting ruined.
The issue of Adani and Mandal Dam is completely on the public domain. But if you will scan the happenings in rural Jharkhand, you will see how the development funds are strategically and unconstitutionally being spent on the betterment of their own party (BJP) cadres, which in turn is helping in developing the party base in rural areas. Gram Vikash Sammitti, Kamal Clubs and many other small organizations affiliated to the BJP are the real beneficiaries of these funds. It is a huge scam, and sadly enough the accountability is completely zero.
They (cadres) have been deployed and the government funds are being used to strengthen their political establishment.
eNewsroom: In the last four years, Jharkhand has witnessed several hunger deaths, lynching cases and rise in rape and murder. Are you going to make them a political issue in the upcoming Lok Sabha election?
Hemant: I do not have to make it an issue, people are making it. During my yatra I realised that the general public is much aware about it.
Extortion and sexual harassment allegations have been made on their (BJP) MLAs, but no action has been taken. While our MLAs raising public interest issues are being stripped off their legislatorship.
Several Jharkhand officers, facing serious charges including that of sexual harassment, have become BJP cadres.
eNewsroom: This is the first time that a non-tribal person was made the chief minister of Jharkhand. Given the way the CNT/SPT Act has been amended, it has become dangerous for the tribals or in other words, do you think that the policies of the BJP government have become a threat for the tribals?
Hemant: Whatever you say about this (Raghubar Das) government whether they are against tribal or indigenous people, but one thing is quite clear – the mindset and attitude, which is should be in a government, is lacking in the present government. The government is not behaving like a welfare state. A government should be is for everyone—the one who voted for them and the others who did not. But you cannot feel the same about this government.
Since the time Jharkhand got separated, BJP has continued being the ruling party for the state, while tribal leaders were chosen as the chief minister including my tenure. But what has happened in these four years—lynching cases and crime, had never happened in state at this large a scale.
The gap between the GDP growth that Jharkhand had witnessed during my term and the present government is huge. This government has failed to run the system. Leave aside good governance, there is no governance at all in Jharkhand.