Rachi: From protesting against illegal mining and deforestation, to becoming a major pivot in the politics of undivided Bihar and present-day Jharkhand, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has had a remarkable journey over the past 50 years.
On December 18, it unanimously elected 78-year-old Shibu Soren as its President for 10th time in a row and his son and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren as its Working President for the third time, at the 12th general party convention held in Ranchi.
Shibu Soren, who had moulded the JMM, is not very active now, and with Hemant Soren being elected as Working President three times in a row, the top command of the party has been successfully transferred from the father to the son.
The party won the 2019 Assembly elections under the leadership of Hemant Soren. Giving its best performance, so far, the JMM secured 30 and formed a coalition government with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with a total of 47 seats in the 81-member house.
Interestingly, even after two years of the Hemant Soren-led government’s rule, no one has the capability to challenge him, either within the JMM or from the Congress or RJD in the state.
In the past few months, several Congress MLAs have questioned the government’s decisions on certain issues, but the JMM’s strong numbers in the alliance have led Hemant Soren to stick to his decisions.
Since its inception on November 15, 2000, the command of Jharkhand has remained with the Soren family. In 2005, 2008 and 2009, Shibu Soren was installed as the Chief Minister of the state, and Hemant Soren in 2013.
In 2019, the JMM-led government was formed for the fifth time and Hemant Soren became the Chief Minister for the second time. This is the longest running government of the JMM, till date. The shortest serving government in the state lasted 11 days.
During his address at the JMM convention, Hemant Soren said: “Earlier the opponents used to spread false information about us and question our government’s capability of serving the tribal-indigenous people. But now we have proved them within two years, that we work in favour of the poor, labourers, and farmers of Jharkhand. Today the opposition has been silenced.”
The foundation stone of JMM was laid on February 4, 1972 in Dhanbad. Shibu Soren, who hails from Nemra village under Gola block of Hazaribagh district, was 28 years old then. When he was 12 years old, his father Shobaran Soren was brutally murdered by money-lenders. Since them, he had pledged to fight against money-lenders.
His family’s immense struggle to get his father’s killers punished had turned him into a rebel. He united the tribals and started fighting against the usurpers. Gradually, this movement took a violent form in areas like Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, and Giridih.
Soon, fiery clashes erupted between the agitators, the Mahajan and the police in some places. Many people were also killed during the protests. However, after several cases had been registered against Shibu Soren, he fled to the Parasnath hills and later to the Tundi forest.
Later, he surrendered to then Deputy Commissioner of Dhanbad, K.B. Saxena, and Congress leader Gyan Ranjan. After two months, when he came out on bail, he formed an group called ‘Sonot Santhal’. It was during this time, he was given the title of ‘Dishom Guru’ or leader of the country, by the Santhal community.
In 1972, Shibu’s ‘Sonot Santhal’ group and former Lok Sabha member Binod Bihari Mahto’s Shivaji Samaj merged to form the JMM. Trade union leader, A.K. Roy also played a pivotal role in this. Mahto became the first President of JMM and Shibu Soren became the first General Secretary.
Within a few years, the party developed a mass base in south Bihar (present-day Jharkhand) as well as in Odisha and West Bengal on popular issues, especially the movement for a separate State.
In 1980, Shibu Soren was elected MP for the first time from Dumka. In the Bihar Assembly polls, held in the same year, the party made its political presence felt for the first time by winning nine out of 18 seats in the Santhal Parganas region.
In 1991, after the death of Mahto, Shibu Soren became the party’s President and since then, has become synonymous with the JMM.
In 2015, a new era began for JMM, when Hemant Soren was elected the JMM’s Working President for the first time at the party’s 10th convention in Jamshedpur.