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Shibu Soren resigns

Shibu Soren

Shibu Soren  

NEW DELHI, JULY 24. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has received the resignation of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader and Coal Minister, Shibu Soren, from the Cabinet. The letter of resignation has been forwarded to the President for acceptance. Dr. Singh will hold the portfolio till the vacancy is filled, most probably by Stephen Marandi.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan release later said that the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had accepted Mr. Soren's resignation on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The letter was handed over to Dr. Singh this morning by Mr. Soren's son, Hemant, and three JMM MPs, Sushil Kumar Mahato, Tepe Lal Mahato and Sudaru Marandi. The JMM team was accompanied by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. According to Mr. Azad, Mr. Soren has pointed out that since there was a delay in the processing of his bail application, he had decided to resign.

`Motivated'

Official as well as Congress sources were confident that the JMM would continue to be a member of the United Progressive Alliance. The JMM leadership, according to the Congress sources, was fully aware that the Bharatiya Janata Party raked up the issue motivated by Jharkhand politics.

Mr. Azad defended the beleaguered Shibu Soren, describing the cases against him as "politically motivated." He accused Mr. Soren's political opponents, including the BJP, of being the "real villain of the piece."

`No summons issued'

Mr. Azad suggested that the manner in which the case against Mr. Soren was handled had left a lot to be desired. "Warrants were issued straightaway without even issuing summons, this is totally unheard of." Elaborating on the "political conspiracy" charge, Mr. Azad recalled that the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, had sought a report from the Jharkhand Government on whether Mr. Soren was an "absconder" and he was told that it was not the case. " Within a day, the DGP was changed and arrest warrants were issued; if this is not politically motivated what else is?" he asked.

Mr. Azad expressed surprise that Mr. Soren's bail application had not been taken up for hearing even after a week, whereas in normal cases judicial relief was usually available within 24 hours. "Parliament is at a standstill, the issue involves a union Minister; yet no notice is taken. This is something all of us as Indians must ponder over." The Minister, however, hastened to add that he was not apportioning any motives, but only stating the facts of the case.

Mr. Azad said the MPs had assured the Prime Minister that there was no change in the JMM's attitude towards the Government and that they would continue to support it.

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