EC favours disqualification of Jharkhand CM Hemat Soren as MLA: Raj Bhavan sources


Ranchi, August 25

The Election Commission of India is believed to have told Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais that Chief Minister Hemant Soren should be disqualified as an MLA for violating electoral norms, Raj Bhavan sources said.

However, Raj Bhavan has officially not confirmed the development.

Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais after touching down at Ranchi airport this afternoon told mediapersons that he will be in a position to comment on the issue once he takes stock of developments after reaching the Raj Bhavan.

“I was in AIIMS, Delhi for two days. 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.

The Election Commission sent its opinion to Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais earlier this morning on a plea seeking that Chief Minister Hemant Soren be disqualified as an MLA for violating electoral norms by extending a mining lease to himself.

The opinion was sent to the Jharkhand Raj Bhavan in a sealed cover.

The BJP, the petitioner in the case, has sought Soren’s disqualification for violating section 9 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with disqualification for government contracts.

The clause states “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 issue was referred to the Governor and by him to EC, as Article 192 of the Constitution says on rulings regarding an MLA’s disqualifications, the question shall be referred to the governor who in turn “shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion.” Earlier in the day, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had tweeted “The Election Commission letter has reached the governor…I had announced that It will be done within August” which attracted objections from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, JMM and Congress.

Jharkhand Chief Minister 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.

‘No communication in this regard has been received by the Chief Minister’s Office” from either the Election Commission or Governor Ramesh Bais, his secretariat said.

“It seems that BJP leaders including a BJP MP and his puppet journalists have themselves drafted the ECI report, which is otherwise always given in a sealed cover,” Soren said in a statement issued by his secretariat.

“This blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies and its complete takeover by BJP HQ in Deendayal Upadhay Marg in this shameful manner is unseen in Indian Democracy,” he said.

The chief minister is apprised of several media reports about ECI sending a report to the governor “apparently recommending his disqualification as a MLA”, his office said.

The coalition partners said there was no threat to the government.

Congress leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Alamgir Alam ruled out any threat to the ruling coalition in the state and said “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”.

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

JMM chief spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya also told PTI, “Attempts have been made to destabilise a democratically elected government ever since it came in power in December 2019 but all such evil designs of the BJP would be thwarted.”