Explained: What is happening in Jharkhand?

CM Hemant Soren alleged blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies after reports claimed that the EC recommended his disqualification as an MLA
Last Updated : 27 August 2022, 05:20 IST
Last Updated : 27 August 2022, 05:20 IST
Last Updated : 27 August 2022, 05:20 IST
Last Updated : 27 August 2022, 05:20 IST

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Fresh political drama erupted in Jharkhand as reports emerged on Thursday stating that the Election Commission (EC) recommended the disqualification of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren from the state assembly as an MLA for violating electoral law by extending a mining lease to himself.

The opinion was sent to the Jharkhand Raj Bhavan in a sealed cover, PTI reported quoting Raj Bhavan sources. Raj Bhavan, however, has officially not confirmed the development.

When asked about the same, Governor Ramesh Bais told reporters that he would be in a position to comment on the issue once he took stock of developments. "I will be in a position to tell about any such decision when I reach Raj Bhavan," he said. Since then, he has not communicated to the media on the issue.

So, what does all of this mean for the Soren government? DH brings you up to speed.

What are the allegations against Soren?

BJP national vice president and former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das had in February this year claimed Soren abused his position and granted himself the favour of a mining lease, an issue involving both the conflict of interest and corruption.

He also alleged violations of provisions of the Representation of People Act.

Taking cognisance of the controversy, the Election Commission of India (ECI) sent a notice to Soren in May seeking his version on the mining lease issued in his favour when he holds the Mining and Environment portfolios.

Owning a lease violates Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with Disqualification for Government contracts, etc, EC sources had said.

What has Soren said on the allegations?

Soren alleged blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies after reports claimed that the Election Commission recommended his disqualification as an MLA in the mining lease case.

"It apparently seems that BJP leaders including a BJP MP and his puppet journalists have themselves drafted the EC report, which is otherwise a sealed cover report," Soren said in a statement issued by his secretariat.

What happens next? Will Soren step down as Chief Minister?

As per law, the governor is bound by the EC’s opinion, as the latter serves as a quasi-judicial body in matters such as these.

Rubbishing the allegations, the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), as part of the UPA alliance, expressed confidence that Soren will remain as the chief minister till 2024.

However, constitutional and parliamentary experts believe that Soren may have to resign if the EC has recommended that he be dsiqualified as a member of the state.

According to a Hindustan Times report, experts have noted that if Soren's party renominates him as floor leader, there may be no legal bar for him to become the CM again.

“Our Constitution allows an unelected minister to remain in power for a maximum period of six months. So, if he has to continue beyond six months, he must get himself re-elected in a by-poll,” former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary told HT.

In addition, sources claim that if Soren is disqualified, leaving the chief minister post in the state vacant, his wife Kalpana may succeed him. JMM is said to have decided to pass on the baton to Kalpana in case Soren is debarred from contesting elections.

When will the Governor take a call on the issue?

Bais may take a call on Saturday on the EC's view on “disqualification” of Soren as an MLA.

Published 26 August 2022, 11:42 IST

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