‘Went to Delhi to buy undergarments’: Did Hemant Soren’s brother really shoot off-the-cuff?

‘Went to Delhi to buy undergarments’: Did Hemant Soren’s brother really shoot off-the-cuff?

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has had enough dirty laundry being aired in public. Or so he thought. On Wednesday, it was brother and Dumka MLA Basant Soren’s turn.

The sword of diqualification hanging over his head, two deaths of teenage girls allegedly after harassment dogging his government, Soren’s brother and Dumka MLA Basant Soren stirred fresh trouble when, in a response to a question on where he was when his constituency was rocked by protests over the two cases, he said he was on a visit to Delhi to purchase “undergarments”.

In a clip shared by news agency ANI on Thursday, the JMM MLA is asked about his Delhi visit in between the unrest that followed the incidents.

“Yes, I went to Delhi. Actually, I had run out of undergarments. So I went to Delhi to purchase them,” he said, smiling.

When the reporter asked, “Do you go to Delhi for that?”, Basant Soren replied, “Yes, I go to Delhi for that.”

Within a span of a few days, a 16-year-old girl and a 19-year-old girl were found dead in Dumka district recently. While the former was found hanging from a tree following alleged rape, a man who was harassing the latter has been held for setting her on fire.

Among the first to hit out at Basant was Godda BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who asked if the son of tribal leader Shibu Soren now goes to Delhi to buy undergarments.

Amit Rakshit, BJP Tripura vice-president, too called out the MLA. “This is the attitude of Basant Soren, brother of Hemant Soren and Dumka MLA where two gruesome murders of little girls took place in last 10 days. No wonder… the criminals there don’t fear law and order!,” tweeted Rakshit.

While Basant Soren said he could not talk as he was in a meeting, a JMM insider told The Indian Express his comment might not have been off-the-cuff, though Basant is not known to be very comfortable with Hindi. “The government has decided to play it on the front foot on recent political developments, and this was perhaps one way to deflect the heat,” the leader said.

Having won Dumka in a bypoll after Soren vacated it, Basant has come into his own as an MLA, and is available to his constituents. However, the charge that he rarely visits Dumka is not new. “He is never there for more than a week. His base is either Bokaro or Ranchi,” the JMM leader said.

Earlier, CM Hemant Soren had faced flak for replying “such incidents keep happening”, when asked about the girls’ deaths. “Ghatna to hoti rehti hain, ghatna kahan nahin hota hai. Ghatna to bol ke aata nahin hai. Isko kis tareeke se liya jaaye (Incidents keep happening, is there any place where they don’t happen? And they don’t happen without a warning. How does one see it then),” he had said.

Basant Soren is also named in the mining lease case over which Hemant Soren is facing threat of disqualification. The Election Commission has sent a letter to Governor Ramesh Bais after considering the matter in the CM’s case. With Bais yet to act on it, the ruling JMM-Congress coalition has alleged that it is to give time to the BJP to try and woo its MLAs and fell its government.