Ranchi: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Thursday asserted that Hemant Soren will remain the chief minister for full term till 2024, and demanded legal action against BJP leaders for disclosing a reported official decision despite no confirmation from either ECI or Raj Bhavan.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is believed to have told Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais that Soren should be disqualified as an MLA for violating electoral norms by extending a mining lease to himself, Raj Bhavan sources said.
However, Raj Bhavan has officially not confirmed the development.
Wondering why the ECI was silent over the violation of the Official Secrets Act, the JMM urged the commission to take suo moto cognisance against BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and other saffron party leaders for allegedly disrespecting the Constitution.
Exuding confidence that Soren will remain the chief minister till 2024, JMM general secretary and spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said Soren will complete his full term and fulfil all promises made to the people.
Bhattacharya was speaking on BJP leaders' social media posts on the unconfirmed development.
"As per the Indian constitution, the power to pronounce decision lies with the competent authority. Since today morning, BJP leaders are busy writing screenplay through a reported ECI's decision, which has neither been confirmed by the ECI nor the Governor House. Jharkhand governor at Ranchi Airport categorically said that he was no intimation in this regard.
"It seems, the ECI decision has been drafted on Deendayal Upadhay Marg in Delhi or in the office of Birsa Munda Rajpath in Ranchi (both BJP offices)," he said.
The ECI should lodge a criminal case against the BJP leaders for making the reported official document public before the pronouncement of the decision by any competent authority, he said.
"We are ready to accept any political challenge from BJP. We taught them lessons in 2019 assembly polls and four by-elections in Jharkhand. The public support is with us," Bhattacharya claimed.
State Transport Minister Champai Soren, in a Twitter post, said that the government is ready to face eventuality.
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."
This attracted objection from the chief minister's Secretariat, JMM and Congress.
Amid demand for mid-term polls by the BJP leaders, state BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Deepak Prakash said, "Ultimately truth prevails."
Congress' Jharkhand in-charge Avinash Pandey said, "Whatever decision ECI takes, we will welcome it. Once the decision is clear, all coalition partners will meet and take decision on future course of action. As a coalition, we all partners are united."
He added that the BJP has been trying to destabilise the Hemant Soren government since it came to power using central agencies and other forces.
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."
Soren alleged blatant misuse of constitutional authorities and public agencies after the reports surfaced but his secretariat said there has been no official communication from either the ECI or the Raj Bhavan.
The ruling alliance has 49 MLAs in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly, with 30 of the JMM, 18 of the Congress and one of the RJD. The coalition partners said there was no threat to the government.