2014 a hit film, not necessary that people will watch it again: Former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren
Every party in power tries to ignore the main issues. It will be important for the Opposition to establish the real issues in the discourse during elections, says Hemant Soren, working president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
Hemant Soren, 43, is working president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and holds the record for being the youngest chief minister of Jharkhand. Currently, the leader of the Opposition in the tribal-dominated state, Soren is part of the efforts to form a front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 election. He spoke to Kumar Uttam on issues confronting the Opposition and how it plans to take on the BJP. Excerpts:
Opposition parties recently gave a Bharat Bandh call and staged a dharna in Delhi against the rise in petrol and diesel prices. What are the other issues you want to take up?
There are many issues that are troubling people. But you will note that development is missing from discourse, totally, when the BJP is your Opposition. They deviate from real issues. We have seen that happening in Karnataka and Gujarat. Karnataka election was fought on the issues of ‘why does a college have portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and why do Muslims offer namaz on the streets’.
Every party in power tries to ignore the main issues. It will be important for the Opposition to establish the real issues in the discourse during elections. We always try to raise such issues.
There are several such issues at the moment, which are related to people. But we hear that BJP will attempt to raise issues like Ram Temple and other controversial subjects in the next election.
The 2014 parliamentary polls became a kind of a presidential (personality-based) election. Does the opposition have enough issues to confront another personality-based election?
There are sufficient issues. Narendra Modi conducted the 2014 election with branding. This time ,such tricks will not work. You may say there are some issues on which today Opposition is either speaking in a low pitch or is not taking up properly nationally. But these issues are being taken up strongly at the regional level. We have won several battles through agitations.
On some issues, you find a mute support even from people in the ruling party — that people should get relief. When thinking of so many people is converging on a common point, then these issues will become important in the election.
Whether it was the election of the deputy chairman or the no-confidence vote against the Narendra Modi government, the Opposition did not stay together. How will you ensure unity in 2019?
We are smaller parties and have a limited role. The management team has a major role in keeping everyone united. No doubt, the Congress has a major role to play in managing things. You saw the kind of preparedness during the election for the Rajya Sabha’s deputy chairman post.
Preparedness matters a lot. If there is any shortcoming in preparedness, then these questions do come up.
But I am confident that when it will come to the issue of main battle (in 2019) all will remain united. 2019 election is the target for each Opposition party. What is happening in between is not relevant.
How difficult it will be for the opposition parties to elect a leader?
In a democracy, elected representatives should choose a leader. The BJP has established this culture that you seek vote for a person, no matter what are his policies and ideology. The new generation will look back. They are coming up with issues like jobs, good life and engagement. They will keep these issues in mind.
The anti-BJP front in Jharkhand has more than four major players. How will you distribute 14 Lok Sabha seats among yourselves?
There is an in-principle agreement that the entire opposition should stay together. We will have to be flexible if we have to stay together.
If we do not realise the seriousness of the situation, then things will turn bad. We are standing with a common agenda for 2019.
Do you think the challenge for you in 2019 is as difficult as it was in 2014?
2014 was a super-duper hit film. People went and watched it. It is not necessary that people will go to watch the same film again and again.
First Published: Sep 13, 2018 07:01:58