Hemant is Guruji, says 'dissident' Simon

Dumka, Jan. 15: If JMM legislator Simon Marandi is to be believed, Hemant Soren is the party's new "Guruji" ' a stature incontestably enjoyed by the latter's father Shibu Soren.

Simon, who until recently led a dissident faction of the JMM, told reporters here today, "Hemant is now our guru for steering the party affairs with utmost maturity."

Interestingly, the Littipara MLA had vehemently opposed Hemant's elevation to the post of chairperson of the JMM's high-powered core committee in 2009 branding Soren junior a political novice then.

Simon's about-turn comes after the JMM (read Hemant) decided to withdraw support to the Arjun Munda government ostensibly against Shibu Soren's wishes last week.

The legislator said that he would not have any objection if Hemant became the chief minister in case the JMM succeeded in forming a new government with the support of the Congress.

"Hemant did a commendable job by breaking the alliance with BJP. There is no dissension within the party over his candidature for the post of the chief minister."

Hemant is now said to regard Simon as a trouble-shooter. The Littipara (Pakur) MLA was among a handful of JMM leaders who accompanied Hemant to Delhi, immediately after the coalition split, to woo the Congress leadership.

Simon said the Congress was likely to formally clear its stand on the likelihood of an alternative government after a brainstorming session in Jaipur on January 18-19.

He further clarified the JMM was seriously considering a long-term alliance with the Congress to sail through the next parliamentary and Assembly elections.

"The JMM's secular image has been at stake after joining hands with the BJP. It could be salvaged by contesting elections with the Congress, which will benefit both parties," he opined, adding an alliance with Congress which lacked a strong base in Jharkhand was also a political compulsion for the JMM.

The issue of sharing the chief minister's chair by rotation was the bone of contention between BJP and JMM that ultimately led to the collapse of the alliance.

However, Simon said, "Although the Congress has so far not given any condition for forming the government, we will not stick to any demand for the post of the chief minister."

JMM MLA from Sarath (Deoghar) Shashank Shekhar Bhokta echoed Simon, saying the entire party was behind Hemant to form an alternative government.

"Hemantji is the only chief ministerial candidate of JMM in the next government that will soon materialise," Bhokta said, adding he was capable to keep the party united.

On Hemant's brief political career, Bhokta pointed out that Rajiv Gandhi had emerged to be one of the best Prime Ministers with even less experience.

Former minister and Shikaripara MLA Nalin Soren, too, expressed similar views. He said Hemant, who was the JMM legislative party leader and headed the core committee, had unquestionable authority.

But he clarified that "Guruji (Shibu Soren) commands the highest authority in the party for being the president".

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