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Hemant holds his own, scores a point

Ranchi, Aug. 21: Chief minister Hemant Soren, interrupted briefly by a raucous section of the crowd cheering for NaMo, held his nerve as he shared the dais with Narendra Modi today, speaking about the Centre’s neglect of Jharkhand while referring to his own humble origins to try and establish a personal connect with the Prime Minister.

Addressing a gathering of over 50,000 people at a packed Prabhat Tara Ground in Dhurwa for around 10 minutes before the Prime Minister, Hemant said sustained development was the only answer to Jharkhand’s ills, most important of which was left-wing extremism.

Injecting a personal touch, Hemant sought to draw a few parallels with Modi, referring to his own humble beginnings.

Mere aur aap mein kuch samantayen hai. Hamari ma ne bhi ameeron ke ghar par kam karke mujhe is mukam tak pahunchaya hai (I have some similarities with you. My mother, too, worked in homes of the rich to make me what I am today),” Hemant noted.

Hemant, who looked nervous at times, was, however, able to raise a variety of issues plaguing Jharkhand ever since it was formed 13 years ago.

He spoke of indiscriminate mining that was harming the environment, the state’s poor resources due to paltry royalties on minerals and the plight of economically weak and backward tribals.

“In many mining areas people are forced to drink red water,” he said, referring to the Saranda region of West Singhbhum, a major source of iron ore. “Only development can drown the sounds of bullets fired by the Maoists,” he added.

He said while corporate houses were growing, Jharkhand’s masses were unable to reap the benefits of industry.

Hemant mentioned how he was unable to get an appointment with the Prime Minister during his Delhi visits to discuss important issues about the state.

“These things send a wrong message for the state. You and I are both working for the upliftment of the poor. The state’s poor can’t be ignored. Otherwise people will not forgive us,” Hemant said, mostly extempore, but referring to a written sheet occasionally.

He also requested the Prime Minister to ensure that essentials like onions and potatoes don’t get sold at exorbitant rates. “There is a need to keep tabs on hoarders and other market forces,” he suggested.

Hemant betrayed his nervousness on several occasions when he referred to Modi as “adhyaksha mahoday (honourable chairman)”, something he is used to saying in the Assembly, but corrected himself immediately.

Pradhanmantri mahoday (honourable prime minister)….”

Earlier, during the beginning of his speech, a section of BJP supporters in front began chanting slogans, “Narendra Modi zindabad, Narendra Modi zindabad….”, in an apparent re-run of the Prime Minister’s recent Haryana rally where chief minister Bhoopinder Singh Hooda was similarly booed.