Wednesday 7 December 2022
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PoliticsIndiaFate of Hemant Soren sealed in Election Commission's letter to governor

Fate of Hemant Soren sealed in Election Commission’s letter to governor

Sources in the Election Commission of India (ECI) have said the panel has recommended that Chief Minister Hemant Soren be disqualified as an MLA. The Soren government's fate in Jharkhand now hangs in the content of the ECI's sealed letter to Governor Ramesh Bais amid speculations that the poll panel has recommended his disqualification as an MLA for holding an office of profit, resulting in a conflict of interest.

The ruling allies, Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Indian National Congress (INC) have seldom seen eye to eye on many issues in the recent past, including the fielding of candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections or going separate ways during the presidential elections. 

Related: Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren's disqualification as MLA explained

The ECI has sent a sealed envelope to the governor, which is believed to contain a letter recommending Chief Minister Soren's disqualification as an MLA under Section 9A of the Representation of People Act. This law prohibits elected representatives from entering into contracts with the government for the " of goods" or "for the execution of any works undertaken by the government".

While the CMO has denied having received any of the type from the EC or the governor's office, Soren’s disqualification implies he will have to resign, along with his council of ministers. If he believes he can hold on to the present alliance, he can stake a claim to form the government. He will again be sworn in, and then, get elected in a by-election to the Assembly within the next six months, or step down again.

However, strained ties between ruling allies and within his party might prove to be a dampener for Soren. If the decision goes against Soren, the parties in the state might go back to resort politics till the trust vote is completed in a bid to keep their flock together. But top sources in the INC say party president Sonia Gandhi is unwilling to let the Soren government discontinue although the chances of the BJP forming a government, taking advantage of the chief minister's disqualification.

In the 82-member assembly, JMM has 30 MLAs, while the INC has 17. The alliance has 47 MLAs while the magic number is 42. The BJP has 25 MLAs.

The JMM is confident that Soren will remain chief minister till 2024. Soren holds that he has no knowledge of the ECI seeking his disqualification as he got to know of this development from the media. "It appears that BJP leaders, including a BJP MP, and his puppet journalists have themselves drafted the Election Commission report, which is otherwise always given in a sealed cover," Soren said in a statement.

"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," he said.

The BJP has asked Soren to step down on "moral grounds" and pave way for fresh elections in the state. However, JMM has said that it will knock on the Supreme Court’s doors, in case Soren is disqualified.

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