JMM leader Hemant Soren took oath as the Jharkhand chief minister for the second time on Sunday at a grand ceremony attended by a number of opposition leaders and regional satraps, in a show of unity—much like the oath of HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka in May last year.
Many held the display of strength as a harbinger of a broadbased anti-BJP alliance amid the uproar over the new citizenship law.
Attired in white kurta-pyjama ensemble and a Nehru jacket, the 44-year-old tribal leader was sworn in as the 11th chief minister of the state by Governor Droupadi Murmu. Former assembly speaker and Congress leader Alamgir Alam, Jharkhand PCC president Rameshwar Oraon and RJD MLA Satyanand Bhokta took oath after him.
Among those in attendance were Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, TMC boss and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh counterparts Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, DMK leader MK Stalin, his sister Kanimozhi, and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.
Soren had been a deputy chief minister and chief minister between 2009 and 2013.
Alam and Oraon are first-time ministers, while Bhokta had been the agriculture minister in the BJP-led NDA governments between 2000 and 2005, before joining the RJD.
The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has won 47 seats in the 81-member assembly.
Four other MLAs—three from the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and one from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) have extended support to the three-party coalition.
After being sworn in, Soren paid his respects to Sidhu-Kanhu, the legendary leaders of Santhal rebellion against the British colonial forces in 1855. “It is a part of our culture to pay respect to our elders on any auspicious day. I have come here after offering flowers to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and will further pay my tributes to Bhagwan Birsa Munda too. This gives us strength and understanding to fulfil our duties in a better manner,” he told reporters in Ranchi.
He later announced that all cases registered during the Pathalgadi movement and protests against the amendments to Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act, 1949, will be withdrawn. According to a press release from the chief minister’s office, the cabinet also decided to recommend the name of JMM MLA Stephen Marandi for the post of protem Speaker of the assembly.