Champai Soren’s name was finalised at a meeting held at Hemant Soren’s official residence. Sources say the MLAs also signed on letters of support.
RANCHI: Champai Soren, no relation to the Hemant Soren family, emerged the top choice to take over the Chief Minister’s chair in Jharkhand as Hemant Soren was arrested Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged land scam.
The 67-year-old’s name was finalised at a meeting held at Hemant Soren’s official residence. Sources say the MLAs also signed on letters of support.
Kalpana Soren, Hemant Soren’s wife, who was widely tipped to replace her husband as Chief Minister had the backing of alliance partners but faced opposition from within the family.
Hemant Soren’s sister-in-law Sita Soren and brother Basant Soren are already active in politics besides the senior figure Shibu Soren, who is the founder of the JMM.
Both Basant Soren and Sita Soren are sitting MLAs and part of the ruling alliance but they are not ministers. Sources say both could have made a claim for the position if Kalpana Soren’s name was sent to the Governor.
On Wednesday morning, Hemant Soren met his father Shibu Soren but there was no consensus on Kalpana Soren within the family itself, say sources. It was always going to be difficult for Hemant Soren to convince his sister-in-law and brother to agree to Kalpana Soren’s name, say sources.
There was opposition to Kalpana Soren’s candidacy from Sita Soren, a the three-time JMM MLA, who also sees herself as “the natural heir of Shibu and Durga Soren’s legacy”.
The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has total of 46 (JMM-28, Congress-16, RJD-1 and CPI(ML) Liberation – 1). The Jharkhand assembly has 80 seats and the majority mark is 41.
Sources say Sita Soren, the elder bahu of the family, was opposed to Kalpana Soren’s bid which was proposed by Hemant Soren.
Amid this family tussle, Champai Soren emerged as a consensus candidate, sources added.
Champai Soren, who actively participated in the Jharkhand movement in the late 90s along with Shibu Soren, was Transport Minister in the Hemant Soren government. He is a senior JMM leader and close to Hemant Soren as well. He also has the backing of the Soren family.