Hemant Soren Faces Disqualification: Here Are 5 Key Options He Has Now

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Hemant Soren faces moral questions, besides legal, over his disqualification.

New Delhi:
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren will have a few options if he is disqualified as legislator for having a mining contract with the state government despite being in office.

Here are the top 5 options he can exercise

  1. The Governor — following the Election Commission’s report after hearings on BJP’s plea — will announce the disqualification, sources have told LOKJANTA STAFF. This means Mr Soren loses his assembly membership. So, can he retake the chief minister’s chair immediately, because generally one doesn’t need to be MLA already to hold that post? There’s some grey area. When a legislator is disqualified under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution — that is to be the case here — he cannot continue as minister until being re-elected as member of the legislature.  

  2. That means the JMM-Congress may have to elect an interim chief minister while the Election Commission holds a bypoll to Mr Soren’s vacant seat within six months. Mr Soren can simply recontest. And then, to be chief minister again, he only needs his party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and partners, including the Congress, to elect him as leader. Larger moral questions over awarding himself a contract may, or may not, have an effect on his fate. Minister and Congress leader Alamgir Alam has already ruled out any threat to the government: “Hemant Soren continues to be our leader.” For now, the cabinet will have to resign, too, when the chief minister does — and can be reconstituted.    

  3. Hemant Soren could have it worse. Law says an MLA found guilty of conflict of interest can also be barred from contesting elections for up to five years, say experts. But sources say, in Mr Soren’s case, that won’t happen. As for the disqualification, he can go to court and, in the immediate, seek a halt. A longer legal battle is more likely. 

  4. Politically, too, it’s not such a straight line. Weakened after corruption charges, he may have to placate some factions. Already there were allegations that the BJP is trying to topple the government, after three JMM legislators were caught with Rs 50 lakh cash in Bengal. The BJP has denied those allegations. Those MLAs have said they were in Kolkata to buy saris. But a lot has been read between the lines, particularly with the BJP’s return to power in Maharashtra after a coup in the Shiv Sena.

  5. While Hemant Soren works out his individual troubles, the JMM-Congress alliance can flaunt numbers. The math does not look like a problem on the surface. The assembly has 82 members, of which the JMM has 30, Congress 17 — an easy majority of 47. Plus, it has support from smaller groups too. But the MLAs-with-cash fiasco in Bengal shows there may be fissures. The BJP leads the Opposition with 25 members of its own, as per the Vidhan Sabha website. It has been demanding mid-term polls “on moral grounds”.

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