With uncertainty over the continuation of Chief Minister Hemant Soren refusing to end, the ruling UPA allies in Jharkhand – the JMM, Congress and RJD – on Sunday accused the opposition BJP of misusing constitutional bodies and conspiring to bring down the government.
Putting up a united front at a press conference, leaders of the three parties asked Governor Ramesh Bains why there has been no official response from him yet when reports have indicated that Soren has been disqualified as an MLA. Claiming that the delay is leading to attempts at horsetrading by the BJP, they urged the Governor to clear the confusion prevailing over the past four days.
The matter relates to Soren getting a mining lease last year in Angara block of Ranchi district. Although he surrendered it, the BJP said it was misuse of official position as he holds the Mining portfolio, and sent a petition to the Governor seeking his disqualification under the Representation of the People Act (RPA).
After it was referred to the Election Commission, the poll panel sent its decision to the Governor. On August 25, The Indian Express learnt that the EC has recommended disqualification of Soren as MLA under Section 9A of the RPA, which prohibits elected representatives from entering into any contract with the government for “supply of goods” or “execution of any works undertaken” by it.
With the Governor yet to make the decision public, the ruling coalition on Sunday questioned the delay.
“If there is any report from the EC [that Soren should lose Assembly seat], the Governor should make it public and announce his decision. Developmental works are being hampered due to the confusion,” senior JMM MLA and state minister Champai Soren said at the press conference. “This is a strange situation now and there is no specific reason. We got to know the EC has sent the letter and it is with the Governor, but he has not released an official response. Democracy and the people in this state are being disrespected. The environment we see in the country, like horse trading of MLAs we saw in Maharashtra… the same is happening in Jharkhand. Our coalition is strong.”
Congress’s Banna Gupta, also a minister, said: “This is a well-planned conspiracy to disrespect the people of Jharkhand…. If the EC has decided something then it should be made public.”
Later, in a joint statement, the UPA MLAs said, “Does Raj Bhavan want to fuel horsetrading by buying time (in making the decision public)? … We have seen how the dignity of the post of Governor was degraded in Maharashtra and other states. This is unfortunate.”
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In the 81-member House, the JMM has 30 MLAs, Congress 18, and RJD one. The BJP has 26.
Reacting to the statement, BJP state chief Deepak Prakash said, “Law will take its own course.”
BJP Legislature Party leader and former CM Babulal Marandi tweeted: “The CM, who made excuses ranging from illness to others while asking for more time from constitutional institutions [in sending his response to the EC] is in such a hurry that he is pressuring EC/Governor to come to a decision. It seems the MLAs with him won’t stand for even two days.”