Basant (42), is the youngest of JMM chief Shibu Soren’s four children. A resident of Bokaro, he currently heads JMM’s youth wing and this will be his debut into electoral politics. In the past, he has been the campaign manager for both Shibu and Hemant on several occasions. Basant, who was in Ranchi on Thursday, did not respond to TOI’s calls and messages.
If Basant manages to win, he will become the fourth person from the family to have entered the state assembly. Shibu’s elder son Durga represented the Jama constituency, another legacy seat in Santhal Pargana, from 1995 to 2000 and was seen as the natural successor to Shibu, until he died at the age of 39 due to various ailments in May 2009. Durga’s widow Sita now represents the seat in the assembly.
Hemant on Thursday morning summoned his sister-in-law Sita Murmu (Soren) to inform her about the decision to field Basant in Dumka. Sita had recently accused a section of JMM leadership of conspiring against her in an open letter to party chief Shibu.
JMM’s spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “The decision (to nominate Basant) was taken on the basis of evaluation done by the chief minister, who is also the working president of JMM, during his three-day visit to Dumka last month. He interacted with a cross section of voters and JMM workers and sought their opinion on the candidate for Dumka.” Basant had accompanied Hemant on all his programmes in Dumka.
Actively involved in politics for years, Basant had contested the Rajya Sabha election in 2016, but ended up losing to BJP’s Mahesh Poddar. Emphasizing that Basant’s fortunes will be reversed this time, Bhattacharya said, “Santhal Pargana is JMM’s home. It is the place where Guruji (Shibu) launched his movement against the mahajans and drug addiction. JMM workers in Dumka were also in favour of fielding Basant as the candidate to maintain Guruji’s legacy.”
The Dumka seat has, for the last few years, been the turf of battle for supremacy between JMM and BJP. While Hemant lost to the saffron party’s Lois Marandi in the 2014 assembly election, he won the seat back in the 2019 state polls even amid speculations that his party has lost hold in the region as indicated by Shibu’s defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. “We are hopeful that our candidate will win with a bigger margin than the assembly polls. We also hope Congress announces its candidate for Bermo soon,” Bhattacharya added.