Amid speculations of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren being disqualified as a legislator, politics has heated up in the state with the BJP calling for mid-term elections and Mr Soren rallying party members and allies for future strategy. The final decision still lies in a sealed envelope with Governor Ramesh Bais who, sources say, may take a call today. The ruling coalition in the state maintains there is no threat to the state government.
However, Mr Soren has called a meeting of the UPA today at his residence in Ranchi.
“We’ve (Jharkhand Congress MLAs) been instructed, keeping in mind the recent political developments and speculations in Jharkhand, to be available in Ranchi. We’ve (UPA MLAs) been called at 11 am tomorrow for another meeting at CM’s residence,” news agency PTI quoted Jharkhand Congress MLA Purnima Niraj Singh.
The Election Commission is believed to have told the governor that Mr Soren should be “disqualified” as a legislator for violating electoral norms, Raj Bhavan sources said.
However, it has officially not confirmed the development.
Governor Bais had told reporters that he would be in a position to comment on the issue once he took stock of developments.
“I was in AIIMS, Delhi for two days. I will be in a position to tell about any such decision when I reach Raj Bhavan,” he had said on Thursday.
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), as part of the UPA alliance, says it’s confident that Mr Soren will remain as the Chief Minister till 2024.
Mr Soren had yesterday said he hasn’t yet received any communication while he has seen several media reports and BJP’s statements about the Election Commission “recommending his disqualification as an MLA”.
“It seems that BJP leaders, including a BJP MP, and his puppet journalists have themselves drafted the EC report, which is otherwise always given in a sealed cover,” Mr Soren said in a statement issued by his secretariat.
“This blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies and its complete takeover by BJP HQ in Deendayal Upadhyay Marg in this shameful manner is unseen in Indian democracy,” he said.
The BJP, which accused Mr Soren of extending a mining lease to himself, has already called for fresh elections and asked the Chief Minister to resign “on moral grounds”.
“Hemant Soren should head towards mid-term polls, on moral grounds,” said BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, “Assembly should be dissolved and there should be elections in all 81 assembly constituencies. BJP has been demanding this.”
The JMM said it will move the Supreme Court if Mr Soren is disqualified as an MLA.
In the 82-member assembly, the JMM (30) and Congress (17) have 47 members — just above the majority mark — besides support from some others. The BJP is the main Opposition with 25 members, as per the Vidhan Sabha website.