Jharkhand UPA partners show solidarity with CM on eve of his appearance before ED


Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren / File Photo: ANI

Ranchi: UPA partners in Jharkhand showed solidarity with Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday, a day before his appearance before the ED here for questioning in a money laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.

At a high-level meeting at CM House to decide strategy over ED summons to the chief minister, the UPA partners said they all are united and ready to fight the "conspiracy being hatched to topple the government."

The ministers and legislators, however, preferred to be tight-lipped over the strategy discussed in the meeting. Legislators of the JMM, Congress and RJD, which has a single MLA in the 81-member state assembly, took part in the meeting.

Asked whether Soren will appear before the ED, cabinet minister Hafijul Ansari said, "It will be decided by the CM."

Health minister and Congress leader Banna Gupta said, "The CM will go to ED office and reply to all queries. We will cooperate with ED but the conspiracy which is going against an elected majority government will also be exposed."

Senior JMM leader and minister Mithilesh Thakur said, "We all (partners) are united. The government will complete its five-year term and we will fulfil the aspirations of state's people."

When asked if they will accompany to CM to ED office, Thakur said, "We have not been summoned by ED. The agency has called CM and he will decide on it."

Meanwhile, JMM workers from across Jharkhand are gathering in Ranchi. The JMM workers are likely to accompany the CM to ED office on Thursday.

"The workers are coming in respect to their chief minister. If supporters take to street in support of him, how we can stop them," Thakur said.

Earlier in the day, JMM and Congress held separate legislative party meeting. All UPA legislators have been asked to be in Ranchi until the crisis gets over.

"All Congress MLAs will be in Ranchi to protect the mandate people have given us. The people of Jharkhand have elected UPA government. We are not going to let anyone to play with people's trust. We will fight against the conspiracy being hatched to topple the popular government," Congress president Rajesh Thakur said soon after the meeting of Congress legislative party meeting at residence of minister Alamgir Alam.

The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Soren at its regional office here for questioning on Thursday in a money laundering case linked to an alleged illegal mining in the state.

The chief minister had requested the ED to advance the date of appearance to Wednesday i.e November 16, which was not agreed to by the agency, official sources said.

Soren was initially summoned by the federal probe agency on November 3, but he did not depose citing official engagements and had even dared it to arrest him. He then sought a three-week deferment of the summons.

The CM has been asked to appear at the ED office on Thursday for questioning and recording of his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The agency has arrested Soren's political aide Pankaj Mishra and two others - local muscleman Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash - in the case.

The ED said it has "identified" proceeds of crime relating to illegal mining in the state to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore till now.

PTI

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