10th Pass 'Kolhan Tiger' Poised to Dominate Jharkhand's Political Landscape

The unexpected selection of the 68-year-old seasoned politician as the leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha adds an intriguing dimension to the state's political landscape.
10th Pass 'Kolhan Tiger' Poised to Dominate Jharkhand's Political Landscape

Ranchi- Champai Soren is set to assume the role of the 7th Chief Minister of Jharkhand , following the arrest of former Chief Minister Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate. A member of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Champai represents the Seraikella Assembly constituenc. Prior to this designation, he served as the Cabinet Minister overseeing the portfolios of Transport, Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Caste, and Backward Class Welfare in Hemant Soren's cabinet.

Champai Soren, the son of a humble farmer, has emerged as a prominent political figure, earning the moniker "Kolhan Tiger." The unexpected selection of the 68-year-old seasoned politician as the leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha adds an intriguing dimension to the state's political landscape.

Initially, speculations centered around the possibility of Hemant Soren's wife, Kalpana, assuming the Chief Minister's position. However, amidst familial and party opposition, Champai Soren has been elected as the leader of the legislative assembly, garnering support from 47 MLAs and staking a claim to a majority in the 82-member assembly, where 42 seats define a majority.

Champai Soren, who is a 10th-grade pass, holds the Transport and Tribal Welfare department. He hails from Jheeling Godda and is known for his aggressive role in the movement to create a separate state of Jharkhand. Due to his involvement in this movement, Champai became famous as Kolhan or the Jharkhand Tiger.

Starting his political journey as an independent MLA in 1991, Champai has been an MLA six times. He lost only once, in the year 2000 to BJP's Anantaram Tudu. During the BJP government led by Arjun Munda, Champai Soren served as a Cabinet Minister from 2010 to 2013. In the Hemant Soren government, he was given the Food and Civil Supplies Department. Married at a young age, Champai has seven children, including three daughters.

The Kolhan region in Jharkhand, under the influential presence of Champai Soren, has been a breeding ground for notable leaders such as Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda, and Raghubar Das, all of whom have held the position of Chief Minister. Renowned for its abundant mineral resources, the politically significant Kolhan mining area has been a focal point in the state's political landscape. Champai Soren, representing the reserved ST seat of Saraikela since 1991, has demonstrated enduring popularity, notably evident in his sole electoral setback in 2000, showcasing strong support, especially within the marginalized tribal community.

During the 1980s, Champai actively collaborated with Shibu Soren, the visionary founder of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, in the fervent movement advocating for the creation of Jharkhand as a separate state. His charismatic and warrior-like persona, coupled with eloquent oratory skills, endeared him to the masses, earning him a cherished place in the hearts of the people. Beyond the general populace, politicians and industrialists alike hold him in high esteem. Despite his educational background limited to the 10th grade, Champai has passionately championed tribal rights and carved a niche for himself as a trade union leader, spearheading successful campaigns in Jamshedpur and Adityapur.

Suresh Sonthalia, former President of the Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce, expresses optimism for the industrial development of Kolhan under the leadership of Champai Soren. Even critics of Hemant Soren anticipate a revitalized energy and positive transformations in Jharkhand politics with this change in leadership.

Hemant Soren and the Land Scam

On December 29, 2019, following the triumph of the JMM, INC, RJD coalition in the 2019 Jharkhand Legislative Assembly election, Hemant Soren assumed office as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. Amidst this victory, a plea urging the disqualification of Chief Minister Hemant Soren as an MLA was sent to Jharkhand Governor by the Election Commission. The plea alleged a violation of electoral law by Soren, concerning the extension of a mining lease to himself.

Hemant Soren, faced allegations in a land scam case, prompting an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). On January 29, 2024, ED declared him "untraceable" for 30 hours after initiating an inquiry at his residence in New Delhi, moments after he had left. Soren reappeared at his official residence in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on January 30, stating that he resides among his people. He admitted to skipping nine summons from the ED. Subsequently, on January 31, Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. Before his arrest, he submitted his resignation letter to the Governor of Jharkhand, C.P. Radhakrishnan.

6 CMs and Three Times President Rule

Since its formation on November 15, 2000, Jharkhand has seen six leaders serve as the state's chief minister. Notably, half of these leaders, including the first officeholder Babulal Marandi, belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Arjun Munda, succeeding Marandi and also from the BJP, holds the record for the longest tenure, serving for over five years across three terms, albeit without completing a full term.

Shibu Soren and his son Hemant Soren, representing the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), have each held the position of chief minister. Shibu Soren's initial term lasted only ten days as he failed to demonstrate majority support in the house, leading to his resignation. Madhu Koda, an independent, also governed the state, a unique occurrence among chief ministers in the country.

The state has experienced President's rule on three occasions during the intervals between these leaders' tenures. Raghubar Das, a BJP member, made history as the first non-tribal chief minister to complete a full term in Jharkhand. Presently, Champai Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is set to assume the role of 7th Chief Minister of the state.

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