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Jharkhand darbar moves to Shibu's 'court'

Jharkhand darbar moves to Shibu's 'court'

Author: Sonali Das
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 5, 2007

Ministers, Legislators Make A Beeline Outside Jailed JMM Chief's Hospital Room In Ranchi

Remember qaidi No 1726 at Tihar Jail who was convicted in November last year for the murder of his personal secretary, Shashinath Jha? Now the same convict, former Union minister and JMM president Shibu Soren, has not only moved back to Ranchi quietly, but has become a power centre once again.

Soren, who managed a gateway from Tihar to Dumka jail in Jharkhand, claiming court appearances in Jamtara and Giridih, and then to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, is virtually calling the shots in the Madhu Koda-headed UPA government.

From CM Koda to his Cabinet ministers, from bureaucrats to well-wishers, there's always a crowd of people waiting outside cottage No. 13 of the hospital to meet Soren-sometimes well into midnight.

For instance, when former chief secretary M K Mandal was to retire in February, a senior bureaucrat met him at RIMS to seek his blessings, though unsuccessfully. Recently, when independent minister Enos Ekka was threatening to pull down the government, the matter was reportedly taken to Soren's durbar where it was resolved.
Until Friday, VIP cars were parked daylong on the hospital campus and visitors thronged the lounge of the two-room cottage from daybreak. Guruji, who prefers home-cooked vegetarian food, got his meals carted in and had at least three cellphones at hand, all constantly ringing.

With May 21, the next date of hearing, approaching fast, Soren was shifted to Apollo Hospital at Irba near Ranchi on Friday after he complained of hypertension. Many said nothing would change save the VIPs will now be queuing up at Apollo Hospital.

Jail officials plead helplessness, saying a convict or an undertrial who is in hospital for treatment is outside the purview of the jail manual and hence beyond the pale of their authority. Nevertheless, the department was trying to restrict visitors, they said.

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