Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Sunday said that he has asked the Election Commission for a copy of Governor Ramesh Bais’ request to the poll panel for a second opinion on an office-of-profit case against him, PTI reported.
Soren said that his counsel asked the poll panel to give him a fair and effective hearing before giving any opinion on the matter.
The office-of-profit case pertains to a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party alleging that Soren allotted a mining lease in his own name while holding the mining portfolio. Media reports had said in August that the Election Commission has recommended Bais to disqualify Soren as an MLA. However, the recommendation was not made public and Bais did not take any action.
On October 27, Bais said that he had sought a “second opinion” on whether to disqualify Soren as an MLA. He claimed that an “atom bomb could explode any time in Jharkhand”, in an apparent reference to his pending decision in the matter.
The governor, however, told reporters that his intention was not to influence Jharkhand’s political status quo. “If my intention was that, I could have taken a decision based on the recommendation of the Election Commission,” Bais said. “But I didn’t want to take any action to defame anyone or with an intention of vendetta.”
Bais said that he holds a constitutional post and has a duty to protect the Constitution. “No one should point fingers at me saying I have acted out of revenge, therefore I have asked for a second opinion,” he said, reported the news agency.
If the governor announces Soren’s disqualification, he will have to resign as an MLA. Soren, however, can get re-elected within six months. He can also continue as the chief minister if legislators of the ruling United Progressive Alliance name him as the leader of the coalition.
On Monday, the Supreme Court may pass an order on a petition by the chief minister challenging the maintainability of two public interest litigations in cases related to irregularities in mining leases and shell companies, The Indian Express reported.
On June 2, the High Court had held that the petitions were maintainable.