NEW DELHI: PM Modi’s maiden visit to Jharkhand on Tuesday was more than an inauguration ceremony of projects, if events that unfolded before and during his tour are taken into account. Speculation swirled that it was an exercise aimed at forging a new political alignment in the state. CM Hemant Soren of JMM walked the extra mile to extend warm greetings to Modi. And unlike his posturing in other non-BJP-governed states, Modi in his speeches refrained from a direct attack on the mahagathbandhan government in Jharkhand or CM Soren.
That surprised many because a host of cases are being filed and investigated currently by central agencies against the CM, his council of ministers and bureaucrats.
The bonhomie between Modi and Soren was evident, but both JMM and Congress downplayed it. They called it an inherent part of tribal culture to accord a warm welcome to guests and constitutional heads.
Soren shared the dais with Modi and his cabinet colleagues Arjun Munda, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Annapurna Devi. He was all praise for the Centre’s cooperation at the event.
Soren said, “If the Centre continues with its cooperation and if the public supports us, I can assure from this platform that Jharkhand would be among the leading states in the country within the next five years.”
While expressing his gratitude to the PM for a slew of development projects inaugurated and launched, Soren personally tanked Modi for connecting Sahibganj through the inland waterways scheme.
On the Deoghar airport, which the PM inaugurated, Soren said it was a dream conceived by the state way back in 2010 and was made possible by the current dispensation under Modi’s leadership. “We have respected Arjun Mundaji and honourable MP Nishikant Dubeyji here on the dais today, who will remember that the dream for the Deoghar airport was conceived together in 2010,” he said.
Dubey and Soren had been at loggerheads and both sharing the dais was a treat to the eyes of the local people.
Modi also chose not to attack JMM or the state government and his entire speech remained focused on sharing details of the projects conceived by the Centre for the development of eastern India through the infrastructure projects in Santhal Pargana. He also did not use the political stage at the Deoghar college, where he addressed a rally, to criticise the state.
Commenting on the apparent closeness of Soren with Modi, JMM central general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said it is ingrained in the tribal culture to receive guests with warmth. “The CM has not done anything extraordinary,” he said. Congress state president Rajesh Thakur said, “Similar sentiments were expressed earlier and it is the constitutional obligation of a CM in a federal democracy to receive the PM.”