Barely three days after the MLAs of the ruling coalition in Jharkhand boarded buses for a day-out in the state’s Khunti, UPA legislators have once again set out on buses. This time, 31 MLAs including cabinet ministers, will fly to another state amid alleged attempts by the BJP to poach the UPA’s legislators.
Highly placed sources in the government said the MLAs are being taken to Raipur, Chhattisgarh, where a Congress dispensation is in place. However, the sources added that meetings are also being held to scout an alternate place if the need arises.
“Initially, Chhattisgarh said they can’t handle all of them, so we thought of going to Rajasthan. But now we have got confirmation from Raipur. Lekin abhi hamare options khule hain. Dono jagah sambhavit hai (But our options are open now, and there is a possibility we will to either of the states,” said an MLA on condition of anonymity.
When asked Congress’ Jharkhand in charge Avinash Pandey said: “Meetings are ongoing to decide on the course of action.”
However, a day earlier in an interview with The Indian Express, Pandey had said that although the coalition was not under any anxiety, the political management of the crisis remained key.
Sources said a cabinet meeting will be held on September 1 and the ministers may come back to Jharkhand to attend it.
Another MLA said CM Hemant Soren wants to keep the BJP on its toes. The MLA added: “There have been certain murmurs over poaching again and CM Soren does not want to take any chance until the ECI letter is public. Of lately there has been some panic again.”
Hemant Soren told reporters outside the Ranchi airport, “We are ready to face every situation and we are preparing a strategy to tackle it. You have seen a glimpse of that very strategy earlier and witnessing it now as well. The ruling dispensation will give a sold reply to the conspirators in the state.”
When asked whether he will also accompany the MLAs, Soren said: “Will see.” He, however, left the airport after a while.
With the Jharkhand government in limbo over Hemant Soren’s disqualification in the mining lease row after the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s recommendation to the Governor, the UPA government has been holding marathon meetings to manage the crisis.
On August 25, the ECI holding Soren guilty of misusing his position by allotting a stone mining lease to himself last year, the poll body recommended his disqualification as MLA under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, in its opinion shared with Governor Ramesh Bais. However, Governor Bais is yet to officially communicate his order on the issue.
The ruling UPA allies, which include the JMM, Congress and RJD, have accused the BJP of misusing constitutional bodies and conspiring to topple the Jharkhand government.
On its part, the BJP has said that “law will take its own course.”