Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday met Governor Ramesh Bais and urged him to clear the confusion prevailing in the State for over three weeks over the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) reported opinion on Mr. Soren’s “disqualification” as a member of the State Legislative Assembly in connection with the office-of-profit case.
“Provide a copy of the decision of the Election Commission and provide an opportunity for reasonable hearing at the earliest so that the atmosphere of uncertainty engulfing the state, which is dangerous for healthy democracy, can be removed soon,” Mr. Soren urged the Governor in a two-page letter submitted to him. Mr. Soren also said that the Opposition BJP in the State had been using the uncertainty to “destabilize a democratically elected government by trying to poach ruling UPA (United Progressive Alliance) MLAs”.
Later, Mr. Soren tweeted in Hindi: “Meeting Hon’able Governor Shri Ramesh Bais ji at Raj Bhawan today, handed over a letter to him to remove the uncertainty of unexpected and unfortunate circumstances arising in the state for more than three weeks for, in this state of confusion, BJP should be stopped from doing this immoral effort”.
Earlier, when BJP leaders had petitioned Mr. Bais seeking Mr. Soren’s “disqualification” from the Assembly in the office-of-profit case, the ECI had reportedly sent its decision to the Governor on August 25, which sparked a political row in the State. BJP leaders had accused Mr. Soren of awarding lease of a stone chips mine in his and his younger brother Basant Soren’s name in 2019, at a time when was holding the post of the State’s Mines Minister in a “clear violation” under Section 9(A) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.
Mr. Soren in a strong rebuttal has said the lease of the mine was given to him in 2008 and was to be renewed after 10 years, in 2019.
To keep his flock of the ruling UPA MLAs together, Mr. Soren subsequently took them to a guest house in Khunti district for a few hours, and then shifted them to a resort in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh for four days. On September 1, a group of UPA leaders submitted a memorandum to the Governor, requesting him to clear the air over Mr. Soren’s “disqualification”. Mr. Soren later won a trust vote in the Assembly, with 48 MLAs supporting his government.
The ruling coalition UPA has the support of 49 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly; the number required to form government is 41. UPA alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has two MLAs, and it secured the support of two other legislators. The Opposition BJP has 26 MLAs.