'Neglected' Sita Soren deals blow to JMM, joins BJP ahead of LS polls

JMM legislator Sita Soren, the sister-in-law of former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, being received by BJP leaders Vinod Tawde and Laxmikant Bajpai as she joins the party in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 19, 2024.
JMM legislator Sita Soren, the sister-in-law of former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, being received by BJP leaders Vinod Tawde and Laxmikant Bajpai as she joins the party in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

Ranchi | In a blow to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Sita Soren, three-term MLA and sister-in-law of former chief minister Hemant Soren, quit the party on Tuesday and joined the BJP, weeks before the Lok Sabha polls.

She joined the BJP in New Delhi in the presence of its national general secretary Vinod Tawde and Jharkhand poll in-charge Laxmikant Bajpai.

Sita Soren tendered her resignation from the JMM, claiming that she was being neglected and isolated.

Earlier, a rift in the Soren family had surfaced after she had openly opposed any move to make Kalpana Soren, wife of Hemant Soren, who is behind bars in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam, as chief minister.

In her resignation letter addressed to JMM supremo and her father-in-law, Shibu Soren, Sita Soren stated that following the demise of her husband, the party failed to provide adequate support to her and her family.

“Since the demise of my late husband Durga Soren, who was a leading warrior of the Jharkhand movement and a great revolutionary, me and my family have been victims of continuous neglect. We have been isolated by the party and family members, which has been extremely painful for me. I had hoped that the situation would improve with time, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” she said.

The Jama legislator also indicated a deviation from the party's core values by accommodating people whose principles do not align with its ethos.

"The tireless efforts of Shri Shibu Soren, who worked hard to keep us all together, unfortunately, also failed. I have become aware of a conspiracy being orchestrated against me and my family... I am left with no choice but to tender my resignation,” she said in the letter.

As per the MLA’s office, she also resigned from the membership of the Jharkhand assembly.

Meanwhile, JMM Rajya Sabha MP Mahua Maji termed Sita Soren’s resignation as “shocking” and urged her to reconsider the decision.

Maji also said internal disputes should be resolved within the Soren family.

Sita Soren’s decision to join the BJP is a shot in the arm for the party's efforts to boost its connect with the Scheduled Tribes, a community that has been the main vote base of the JMM.

"Sita has been freed from Ravan's Lanka," a BJP spokesperson asserted.

BJP state president and former chief minister Babulal Marandi said Sita Soren was welcome in the party. Asked whether she will contest the Lok Sabha elections, Marandi said the decision will be taken by the party's central poll committee.

"The Congress and JMM legislators feel threatened by their own government," claimed Marandi.

He said that Sita Soren’s letter reflected “the pain and injustice she faced”.

"She suffered jolts... Sita has come to Ram... She is welcome," the former CM added.

However, JMM central committee spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said the party gave her due recognition and made her its general secretary, besides being elected thrice as MLA.

He also lashed out at the BJP, dubbing it as a party that believed in the “policy of use and throw”, citing the “treatment” meted out to leaders like “Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje Scindia”.

Alleging that the BJP uses institutions like the CBI and ED to intimidate opposition leaders, he said, "Not everyone is Hemant Soren, who can fearlessly face such forces.”

Sita Soren’s resignation comes a fortnight after the Supreme Court overturned a 1998 judgement – in a case where Shibu Soren was an accused – saying that MPs and MLAs who take bribes to vote or speak in a certain manner in the House are not immune from prosecution.

She is accused of accepting bribe from an independent candidate in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections.

The hotly debated 1998 JMM bribery case judgement, which protected former Union minister Shibu Soren from prosecution, was overturned by a seven-judge bench on March 4, ironically following a petition by his MLA daughter-in-law Sita Soren.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud overruled the 1998 verdict, which held the field for 26 years, and ended the immunity enjoyed by lawmakers who vote or make speeches in the House after accepting bribe.

After the arrest of Hemant Soren, the executive president of the JMM, Sita Soren had strongly opposed any move to make his wife the CM.

Talking to PTI, Sita Soren had then said: "I would like to ask why only Kalpana Soren, who is not even an MLA and has no political experience. Under what circumstances her name is doing the rounds as the next chief minister when there are so many senior leaders in the party."

“If they want to elect from the family, I am the seniormost and have been an MLA for around 14 years.”

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