Union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah on Saturday accused Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren of not acting against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh due to vote bank politics and described his government as the “most corrupt” in the country.

Addressing his party’s Vijay Sankalp rally at Deoghar after laying foundation stone of a nano fertilizer plant, Shah said the population of tribals has come to down to around 24 per cent from 35 per cent in Santhal Parganas.

“The Hemant Soren government is watching over the changing demography. Illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) are grabbing tribal land. They are exploiting tribal girls but the state government is looking the other way due to vote bank politics. Population of tribals is going down in Sahebganj, Pakur, Godda, Dumka and Jamtara. The population of backward classes has also reduced,” said Shah.

“The JMM (Soren’s party) and the Congress do not have the courage to act. But the BJP would not allow the demography of the area to change. We will ensure that this land continues to belong to those who own it,” he said.

Tribal dominated Santhal Parganas, one of the five administrative divisions of Jharkhand, is spread across five districts and makes the eastern and north-eastern stretch of Jharkhand, sharing borders with West Bengal.

BJP has repeatedly raised the issue of “changing demography” of the area allegedly due to illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

BJP leaders have, on several occasions, demanded a “mini-NRC” in Santhal Parganas, a political stronghold of the ruling JMM and Congress, to identify illegal immigrants. Party insiders say it will be a major poll agenda for the saffron party in the upcoming parliamentary and assembly elections, both due in 2024.

Soren leads an alliance government of his party JMM, Congress and the RJD.

Addressing his second Vijay Sankalp rally in Jharkhand within a month — he had addressed a rally at Chaibasa on January 7 — Shah described the Soren government as the most corrupt in the country.

“Hemant Soren should listen to this with open ears. I have no hesitation is saying that the government running in Jharkhand is the most corrupt government in the country running now… some people make illegal money using their hands when they become ministers and chief ministers. But in this government using tractors and rail wagon for their corruption,” said Shah.

The union home minister said people of state are waiting to overthrow the government and ensure victory for BJP in both Lok Sabha and assembly elections next year.

Hailing the union budget presented earlier this week, Shah listed achievements of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in upliftment of the poor, dalits, adivasis and women, even as he challenged Hemant Soren-led government to come up with their list of achievements.

Reacting to the charges, JMM spokesperson Manoj Pandey said the statements reflect “frustration” of the BJP, which is “afraid of the rising popularity graph of Hemant Soren who is today the most popular chief minister in the country”.

“They won’t utter a word on Hindenburg report and the lakh of crores of that has been robbed by their industrialist friend. When he was in Jharkhand, he should have spoken about what are they doing for Sarna Code and OBC reservation. He should have spoken about the rising inflation and unemployment. As far as the electoral outcome is concerned, they are afraid of Hemant Soren. In Santhal Parganas, they somehow got two seats in last election. They would be wiped out in the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

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