‘Complete BJP takeover’: Hemant Soren on EC recommendation to disqualify him

Updated on Aug 25, 2022 04:19 PM IST

The Jharkhand governor sought ECI’s opinion over a complaint received from BJP that CM Hemant Soren should be disqualified from the assembly as he allegedly holds an office-of-profit

The ECI recommendation is keenly awaited by ruling UPA alliance as well as opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it could have political ramifications for the UPA government in Jharkhand. (PTI Photo)
The ECI recommendation is keenly awaited by ruling UPA alliance as well as opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it could have political ramifications for the UPA government in Jharkhand. (PTI Photo)

RANCHI: The Election Commission (EC) has recommended disqualification of Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren on an “office of profit” complaint that accused him of holding a mining lease over a plot of land in Angara block of Ranchi, people familiar with the matter said.

The commission conveyed its findings on the complaint to governor Ramesh Bais in a sealed cover, a person aware of the development said. Bais, who was in New Delhi since Monday on a personal visit, returned to Ranchi on Thursdy afternoon.

The disqualification will come into effect only after the governor’s office processes the EC’s opinion and issues the formal notification.

The chief minister’s office retaliated to the news reports about EC recommendation with a stinging swipe at the commission. In a statement after reports of the EC recommendation emerged, the chief minister’s office said that they hadn’t received a communication from either the EC or governor.

“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. This blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies and its complete takeover by BJP HQ in Deendayal Upadhyay Marg in this shameful manner is unseen in Indian Democracy”, the CMO’s statement said.

But it is an eventuality that was anticipated by Soren and his Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the senior partner in the state’s ruling alliance that also comprises the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.

Congress leader and parliamentary affairs minister Alamgir Alam ruled out any threat to the coalition. “Even in the probability of Soren, who is also the JMM executive president, being disqualified from assembly in an office of profit case, there is no threat to the government,” he told reporters.

“It is a policy matter. Our government will continue. Hemant Soren continues to be our leader,” the minister said.

The JMM has 30 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly, the Congress 17 legislators, and the RJD one. The main opposition BJP has 26 MLAs in the House.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey said his party “wants a mid-term poll” in the state.

Governor Bais referred a complaint received from the opposition BJP in February this year. Former chief minister Raghubar Das and BJP legislature party leader Babulal Marandi met the governor on February 11 this year to seen Soren’s disqualification as a legislator under Section 9A of the Representation of People’s Act 1952. According to Section 9A, ”A person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that Government.’’

The matter pertains to a stone chips mining lease Soren was given in Ranchi in 2021, with the mines and environment department headed by him giving a nod to his application.

The election watchdog first sought complete details of the mining lease from the chief secretary and later issued notice to Soren on May 2.

Soren has argued that the mining lease for a 0.88 acre parcel of land on the outskirts of Ranchi was originally granted to him on lease for 10 years on May 17, 2008. Soren said he had applied for renewal of the mining lease in 2018 but the application lapsed. He added that he reapplied “sometime in 2021” when the deputy commissioner in Ranchi invited fresh applications and he was subsequently granted the lease as per procedures.

However, Soren said, he did not obtain the consent to operate and on February 4 this year, he applied to surrender the lease and his request was accepted by the department.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Vishal Kant works as an Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He tracks developments in Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi government. Vishal has spent about a decade covering the city politics and governance, besides writing on Delhi’s civic issues, urban transport and infrastructure.

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