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Hemant presents list of demands

Ranchi, Dec. 25: Making a cautious play for his pound of flesh, deputy chief minister and JMM scion Hemant Soren today met his boss chief minister Arjun Munda with a new charter of demands.

What really transpired between the two political heavyweights in the closed-door meeting at the chief minister’s Kanke Road residence this afternoon is not known, but Hemant claimed that “smooth transfer of power” after the Munda-led government completed 28 months in office on January 10 prominently figured during the talks.

Earlier Hemant had announced that his party was neither scared of President’s Rule or fresh elections.

“The BJP should either honour the agreed terms while forming a government in Jharkhand with JMM support or face the music,” he said.

Munda reportedly promised to discuss the “new agenda” at the Jharkhand coordination committee meeting to be chaired by Hemant’s father, JMM supremo Shibu Soren, on December 29.

Strict execution of tenancy laws, identification of local natives on the basis of 1932 land records to enable them easily secure Grade III and IV jobs, release of grants-in-aid to madarsas and a “poor-friendly” rehabilitation policy for the displaced figured at the top of the new wish list, said insiders.

Hemant, who also happens to be the JMM legislature party leader in the Assembly and general secretary, has not set any deadline.

But he — and more so his party — is in no mood to wait, either.

In fact, he was due to meet the chief minister last evening itself with the demands, soon after Munda’s return from Delhi. But, Munda reportedly advised him restraint on two counts. One, the other deputy chief minister, Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto, was in Singapore on a personal visit. Two, Hemant’s sister-in-law, legislator Sita Soren, had created a controversy last evening when she allegedly abducted her former private secretary Vikas Pandey.

But the party ranks were seething, said insiders, forcing Hemant to abandon restraint and rush to Munda’s doorstep.

JMM workers are apparently determined to “avenge the humiliation” caused when the BJP withdrew support to the Shibu Soren government in 2010. Recent public statements of BJP heavyweights have added fuel to the simmering fire.

“Either the BJP will have to step down and help the formation of our party-led government or we will withdraw support. JMM cadres are feeling neglected despite being an integral part of the existing government. The January 10 deadline may expand a little. But we won’t sit idle. We will hold meetings with cadres to discuss our course of action. One such meeting with our district presidents and secretaries will be on January 6. The central committee meeting will be on January 10,” said JMM core committee secretary Vinod Pandey.

Munda, however, stayed characteristically calm. “Amicable solutions will be worked out on December 29,” he said.