Rebel JMM MLA Lobin Hembrom becomes a headache for Soren, party

Senior party MLA Lobin Hembram has posed a big challenge for the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand and his party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Hembram has put the party in tough spots several times earlier also, but this time directly took on Soren by organising a rally of tribals on the issue of Parasnath Hill on January 10.

The biggest factor in the political base of JMM is the tribal-native population.

In the state’s Santhal Pargana division, the majority of tribals still consider party President Shibu Soren no less than a deity. The JMM has maintained its fort in the area for the past several decades, despite repeated attempts to take over by the BJP.

But the JMM is now headed by Hemant Soren, the party’s working president and the Chief Minister.

Hembram, legislator from Borio area of Santhal Pargana, has been raising questions on Soren’s decisions since nearly two years, on which the latter has not paid any special attention so far.

Perhaps there is a strategic reason behind Soren’s silence.

But this time, the way Hembram has linked the issue of Parasnath hill with the question of religion, rights and tribals’ identity, it can directly affect the traditional political equation of JMM.

The BJP leaders have also been attacking the Soren-led government on social media by using clippings of Hembram’s attitude and his words while leading the tribal protest in Parasnath.

The tribal organisations demonstrated with traditional weapons and held a huge gathering.

Describing the hill as a place of worship of tribals as “Marang Buru” (supreme deity or literally the great mountain), Hembram gave an ultimatum to Soren to restore the rights of tribals by January 25, failing which, he said large-scale agitation under Jharkhand Bachao Morcha will be conducted.

Hembram accused Soren of being surrounded by Bihari advisors and said that they were anti-tribal.

Referring to the CM’s press advisor Abhishek Pintu, his jailed political representative Pankaj Mishra, advisor Sunil Srivastava, Supriyo Bhattacharya, etc., he said that he wanted to “kick them ten times”.

Many BJP leaders shared this clipping of Lobin’s speech and took a jibe at the CM.

The dispute over Parasnath Hill does not seem to end. Hembram has announced fasting and organising sit-in protests on January 30 in Ulihatu, the birthplace of tribal leader Birsa Munda, and in Bhognadih, the place of sacrifice of Sidhu-Kanhu, on February 2.

Hembram formed an organisation called Jharkhand Bachao Morcha a few months ago, and has been trying to strategically strengthen the emotional mobilisation of tribals on the issue that can threaten JMM’s relations with the tribal community if they succeed in the endeavour.

Although he describes this organisation as non-political, political experts believe that the possibility of him contesting in the Assembly elections, cannot be ruled out if he is able to mobilise the tribals in large numbers.

Hembram attacked his own government for fooling the people of Jharkhand on the name of Khatian policy of 1932, illegal mining in the state and liquor policy among others.

He accused the government of not taking any step for the betterment of the tribals and natives in the last three years.

He has spoken against the state government in the Assembly too, and even cried once while criticising them.

Hembram has been elected five times from Borio and won independently when the JMM denied him a ticket. He has a huge base in this area.

Political analysts point out that the party leadership has been refraining from taking any action against Hembram as it may help garner the sympathy of a section of tribals.

In such a situation, the party does not want a front to be formed under his leadership, which can lead to the division of tribal votes in the upcoming elections.

Senior party leader Stephen Marandi said that Hembram should raise his issues on the party forum instead of speaking publicly against the state government.

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