The office of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday said that it has not received any communication either from the Election Commission or the governor recommending his disqualification as an MLA, the Hindustan Times reported.
Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais had sought the opinion of the Election Commission after the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party raised a complaint that Soren should be disqualified from the state Assembly on the allegations that he holds an office-of-profit by having a mining lease in his name.
An office-of-profit means a position that brings to the person holding it financial gains or benefits.
The BJP has also accused Soren of violating Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, that deals with the disqualification of legislators for government contracts.
According to reports, the Election Commission on Thursday had suggested disqualifying Soren from the Assembly. The opinion was sent to the Raj Bhavan in a sealed cover, PTI reported.
“Now, it is up to the governor what call he takes on the ECI’s opinion,” an unidentified senior official told the Hindustan Times.
Soren’s office issued a statement later in the day.
“The chief minister is apprised of several media reports about ECI sending a report to hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand ‘apparently recommending his disqualification as a MLA’,” his office said. “No communication in this regard has been received by CMO from either ECI or governor.”
It also accused the BJP of drafting the Election Commission recommendation report.
“It apparently seems that BJP leaders, including a BJP MP and his puppet journalists, have themselves drafted the ECI report, which is otherwise a sealed cover report,” the statement said. “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.”
Contents of the Election Commission report are not clear yet.
Meanwhile, Bais told ANI that he is not aware about the report.
“I had gone to AIIMS [in Delhi] for treatment, I can only say anything after I reach Raj Bhavan,” Bais said.
Following the development, BJP leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das accused Soren of misusing his position, ANI reported.
“Let’s see what action the governor takes,” Das was quoted as saying. “Not only he [Hemant Soren] should be stripped of his membership but he should also be debarred. Action should be taken against him as it is a matter of corruption.”
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said that Soren “should head towards mid-term polls on moral grounds”, NDTV reported.
“Assembly should be dissolved and there should be elections in all 81 Assembly constituencies,” Dubey added. “BJP has been demanding this.”
A few ministers of the Soren-led Jharkhand government have reached his home in Ranchi to discuss the matter. Jharkhand Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan is also present in the meeting, ANI reported.
Jharkhand is ruled by the alliance of Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.
Jharkhand government warns legal action
Meanwhile, the Jharkhand government has warned media houses of taking legal action for news reports linking Soren to a person against whom the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids and seized two rifles, PTI reported on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the central agency had raided several places in Jharkhand and other states and seized the weapons from a house as part of the money-laundering case related to the alleged illegal mining.
Later, however, the Ranchi Police confirmed that the weapons belonged to the force. Two constables were suspended for leaving their weapons in the house of Prem Prakash.
“Certain news reports by media platforms including a few national TV channels point to a misleading ploy and attempt to intentionally link the chief minister of Jharkhand to a private individual against whom the ED raids were conducted,” the government secretariat said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement also warned that if the state government sees more reports on this, it will deal with them as per due legal provisions, PTI reported.