JMM scion and first-time chief minister Hemant Soren (38) completed 100 days of governance on Sunday with allies Congress and RJD. It has been no honeymoon, as carping critics are quick to point out the slow pace of development, bureaucratic claptrap and simmering tempers of some of the key faces of the JMM and Congress, including patriarch Shibu Soren. Firmly rebutting allegations of a Congress-JMM rift and no action, Hemant tells VIJAY DEO JHA he knows the clock is ticking in an exclusive chat at his Kanke Road residence
TT: Now that your government is approaching 100 days (the interview was taken on Friday, the 98th day), what do you have to say about your performance?
Hemant: Are you talking about my 100 days as CM or 100 days of this government? My cabinet came into complete shape only in August first week and by this count my government is not yet 100 days old. I am not a magician like P.C. Sorcar. Please have patience. I know my responsibility. Criticisms are natural but those who know me can tell you I am not laid-back
Have you set priorities such as energy, social security, law and order, bureaucratic transparency, among others or are you still drafting them?
Dekhiye yeh priority jaisa sawal mujhe hamesha pareshan karta hai. The media always narrows down questions with a priority tag. The government must embrace a large vision. If I speak about priority, people will say the CM is running his own agenda. I have focussed on every sector
Do you offer any timeline by which result will be visible?
You will know a lot on November 15 (Jharkhand’s Statehood Day). I have instructed chief secretary (R.S. Sharma) to roll out the 17th point programme that includes everything. I assure you that people will remember me for my work. Many welfare schemes have been started
But even a section of the Congress now wants the CM to hurry up.
Sau sonar ki, ek lohar ki (hundred blows of a goldsmith are comparable to one blow of an ironsmith). In coalition politics such scrambles by alliance partners happens. I don’t respond to who says what. I regularly consult senior Congress leaders over governance. They appreciate my efforts in correcting the system. I aim to make my government public-oriented
But the Congress says your government is not doing anything about delegating power to elected panchayat representatives and Food Security Act, UPA’s two top poll agendas.
Only today (Friday, October 18), I held a meeting to fix foolproof modalities to implement Food Security Act. Panchayat representatives will be given their rights soon
Last month you said people have lost faith in bureaucracy.
It was both a criticism and a warning. In a majority government, the bureaucracy is controlled more effectively. Main ek aise train ka chalak hoon jiski chakki mein jung lagi hai (I am driving a train with rusted wheels). There is no proper sync between bureaucracy and the political class. Though both are integral to the system like oxen yoked to a plough, they pull in different directions
You had said action will be taken against errant bureaucrats. Have any been taken?
When I inaugurate a project I first spot wrong doings and direct FIRs. So far action against 64 officials have been taking, ranging from showcause to dismissal. If I continue this way, I guess officials will think twice before inviting me (laughs)
But there is no punitive action against IAS and IPS officers.
None will be spared if complaints found genuine. I am not prejudiced
What will be political scenario in Jharkhand in Lok Sabha polls of 2014, especially the UPA’s fate?
It will be premature guesswork now
Father and son seem to be on different pages over JMM’s seat-sharing deal with the Congress for Lok Sabha 2014 polls. You seem satisfied with four out of 14 seats, while Shibuji wants seven.
We have a deal of 4:10 seats with the Congress. There is no doubt. Our party chief only said the Congress and JMM have not decided which party will fight which seat. The matter was blown out of proportion
But Shibuji insisted on seven seats. Do you think the alliance will continue?
The alliance will work. I personally won’t do anything to affect its very template
You have virtually succeeded your father as political heir. Can you go to the fray without your father’s magic?
I can’t say if I have succeeded him or not. Shibu Soren as party head is supreme. He will campaign for the election. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he was hospitalised and fought election from the bed. I had to take the command of the party. We increased our tally (smiles)