Ranchi: With political uncertainty looming large in Jharkhand, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keeping its cards close to the chest by adopting a “wait-and-watch” strategy, former chief minister Raghubar Das told ThePrint.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led ruling coalition in the state is on a sticky wicket, awaiting Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais’s decision on whether to disqualify CM Hemant Soren as an MLA in an ‘office of profit’ case.
Asked whether the BJP will demand fresh elections or the imposition of President’s Rule in Jharkhand if Soren is disqualified as an MLA and debarred from contesting polls, senior BJP leader Raghubar Das (67) said such notions are too “speculative” for now.
“We are waiting for the governor’s decision and I am saying again that, in a democracy, whoever has the numbers will form the government,” he added.
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance enjoys the support of 49 MLAs in Jharkhand’s 81-member Legislative assembly — 30 MLAs of the JMM, 18 of the Congress and 1 of the RJD. The lone CPI(ML) MLA, too, supports the JMM-led coalition.
The opposition BJP, on the other hand, has 26 MLAs in the House where the magic number needed for a party to prove its majority on the floor is 41.
Also Read: Jharkhand governor keeps JMM guessing as EC’s opinion casts shadow on Soren’s future
‘Don’t blame BJP for JMM’s black deeds’
The BJP should not be blamed for the political crisis unfolding in Jharkhand today, said Raghubar Das.
“One should not see the charges that the BJP has leveled against the CM as an attempt to remove the CM. The Soren government is in trouble because of its black deeds. Who had asked the CM to allot a mining lease to himself, allot industrial land in the name of his wife?”
Das was referring to how a petition filed by BJP leaders, including himself and Leader of Opposition Babulal Marandi, landed CM Soren in trouble. In the petition — filed before Governor Bais on 11 February — the BJP sought Soren’s disqualification as an MLA on the grounds that he allegedly issued a mining lease to himself for a stone chips quarry on government land while he was holding the mines portfolio.
The governor’s office referred the matter to the ECI which conveyed its opinion to Governor Bais in a sealed envelope Thursday. The ball is now in the governor’s court as he will have to take a final call on whether Hemant Soren will face disqualification as an MLA — the governor is yet to communicate his decision to the chief minister’s office and the public.
In a notice to CM Soren, the Election Commission had said that his actions prima facie violate Section 9A of the Representation of People’s Act, which deals with disqualification of elected representatives if proven guilty of holding office of profit. Soren has since surrendered the mining lease.
Taking aim at the chief minister, Raghubar Das said the people of Jharkhand had elected Hemant Soren for him to work for their interests but Soren betrayed their trust by misusing his authority to benefit himself and his family.
“Iss desh me loktantra hai, rajtantra nahin. Jis tarah rajtantra me ek raja jo chahe so kare, praja kuch nahin kar sakti, JMM or parivaarwadi partiyo ki wohi manseekhta hain. Rajya ki sawa teen crore janata ne aapko rajya ki sewa karne ke liye chuna tha par aap swah seva me lag gaye,” Das said.
(There is democracy in this country, not monarchy. The way in which in a monarchy, the king can do whatever he wants and the people can do nothing about it, that is the mentality of JMM and other dynasty-led parties. The state’s 3.25 crore people have elected you to serve them but you ended up doing self-service)
Das, who served as the sixth chief minister of Jharkhand, further demanded that Soren be charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act. “Not only has the CM taken favours for himself but he misused his authority to benefit his wife and relatives,” he alleged.
Citing Section 9(A) of the Representation of Peoples Act, Das said: “Any CM, MLA or public representative can’t take government contracts. If they have taken, then their membership will be disqualified and they can be barred from fighting the election also.”
‘Soren playing emotional card’
Raghubar Das further claimed that CM Hemant Soren – after facing allegations of corruption and “parivaarwad” (familialism) — is now playing the “emotional card” and blaming the BJP for trying to destabilize a “tribal chief minister”.
“BJP’s legislative party leader Babulal Marandi is also a tribal, a santhal. He has, till date, not been allowed to take the responsibility as Leader of the Opposition by putting pressure on the Speaker. Isn’t Babulal Marandi a tribal leader,” asked Das.
He further said that the JMM-led coalition government talks of jal, jungle aur zameen (water, jungle and land) but is giving away every inch of precious tribal land in the state to “middlemen and private syndicates”.
“Let the Soren government tell if any of the land that was acquired in an industrial area for tribal people was given to even a single tribal? Instead of giving land to a tribal, you [CM Soren] gave it to your wife. The tribal population of Jharkhand is watching how the state government, in the name of tribals, is working against their interests,” Das alleged.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
Also Read: JMM, BJP prepare for Soren’s disqualification as EC finds ‘ample evidence’ in mining lease case