Jharkhand crisis: Declare EC’s view on Soren, remove uncertainty: JMM, allies to Governor

Battling political uncertainty in Jharkhand, an eight-member delegation from the JMM-led ruling coalition in the state met Governor Ramesh Bais on Thursday and submitted a memorandum asking him to “clear the air” and disclose the Election Commission’s opinion on the eligibility of Chief Minister Hemant Soren to continue as MLA.

The memorandum stated that “purported selective leaks from your (the Governor’s) office” on the issue have led to a “state of chaos, confusion and uncertainty, which vitiates the administration and the governance of the State”.

“This also encourages political brinkmanship to destabilise the democratically elected government headed by CM Soren by illegal means. Although Your Excellency is yet to declare the EC opinion, which is given in confidence to you…BJP has made public the opinion and demanded resignation of the CM, mid-term polls. As you are undoubtedly aware, disqualification, if any, of the CM will not have any effect on the government as the JMM-INC-RJD-Independents coalition will still enjoy an overwhelming majority,” the memorandum stated.

“We request you to declare the EC opinion… Prompt action will serve the cause of democracy, and further delay will be against Constitutional duties your office is expected to uphold,” it said.

Soren was not part of the delegation, which included JMM MPs Vijay Hansda (Lok Sabha) and Mahua Manjhi (Rajya Sabha); Congress MPs Geeta Koda (Lok Sabha) and Dhiraj Sahu (Rajya Sabha); JMM spokespersons Vinod Pandey and Supriyo Bhattacharya; Congress ex-MLA Bandhu Tirkey; and, Vinod Bhokta of RJD.

The Governor is yet to apprise the state government of the EC’s opinion, which was conveyed to him on August 25, triggering uncertainty over Soren’s tenure. The JMM has since alleged attempts by the BJP to poach the ruling alliance’s MLAs, and taken 32 of them from Ranchi to Raipur in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh.

The ruling alliance has 49 MLAs — 30 from JMM, 18 from Congress and one from the RJD — in the 82-member House. Of them, three Congress MLAs face disqualification after being arrested in West Bengal allegedly with unaccounted money in their vehicle.

On August 26, The Indian Express cited EC sources to report that the Commission, in its opinion shared with the Governor, found Soren guilty of misusing his position to allot a stone mining lease to himself last year — and recommended his disqualification as MLA under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Chief Minister heads the state’s mining department, and the lease allotment was later cancelled.

The memorandum submitted to the Governor on Thursday referred to news reports citing sources from Raj Bhavan that CM Soren has been disqualified by the EC. “You will appreciate that such news is being sensationalised in the local and national print and electronic media creating an atmosphere of political uncertainty and encouraging rumours of all hues and kinds,” it said.

“All these news items are being reported as being leaked from Your Excellency’s office and this is really unfortunate…(the) Office of Governor being a Constitutional office, the public have a very high regard for the same and even a false rumour coming out of the office is taken at its face value to be correct,” the memorandum stated.

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