Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren today said he hasn’t yet received any communication while he’s seen several media reports and BJP’s statements about the Election Commission “recommending his disqualification as a MLA”. The BJP, though, is confident that its plea has succeeded, and sought mid-term polls “on moral grounds”.
Contents of the EC’s report aren’t public yet.
“It apparently seems that BJP leaders, including a BJP MP and his puppet journalists, have themselves drafted the ECI report, which is otherwise a sealed cover report,” Mr Soren reacted angrily in a statement.
The BJP, which has accused Mr Soren of giving himself a mining lease and thus sought his disqualification, is already moving to the next political step. “Hemant Soren should head towards mid-term polls, on moral grounds,” said BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, “Assembly should be dissolved and there should be elections in all 81 assembly constituencies. BJP has been demanding this.”
But the Congress, junior partner of Mr Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), says the alliance has the numbers in any case. “I met the CM, who told me he hasn’t yet got any communication about the sealed report. Let the Governor decide. We are working on our strategy,” said Alamgir Alam, leader of the Congress Legislature Party.
On whether a new face would be put up if Mr Soren is disqualified — or will Mr Soren simply take a new oath and fight a new election — the Congress leader, “We definitely want Hemant Soren to remain the chief minister… We have the strength. The government will remain in place.”
After the BJP sought Mr Soren’s disqualification, alleging violation of Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, the Governor referred the matter to the poll panel, as required under Article 192 of the Constitution. Law says the Governor is bound by the opinion of the EC, which functions as a quasi-judicial body in such matters. That opinion is in now, so a decision is expected anytime. The Governor was out of town but returned this afternoon.
The last four days have seen quick movement. The EC concluded the hearings on Monday. On Tuesday, it sent its opinion to Governor Ramesh Bais. Sources said it was received by the Governor’s office the next day. BJP MP Nishikant Dubey also tweeted today that the letter from the EC has reached Raj Bhavan.
During the hearings, on August 12 Mr Soren’s team concluded its arguments, following which the BJP filed its rejoinder. On August 18, both sides submitted written submissions.
Earlier, the JMM and Congress accused the BJP of trying to topple the government using money, after three JMM legislators were caught with about Rs 50 lakh cash in neighbouring Bengal. The BJP has denied those allegations.