Breaking
May 29, 2024

Political Drama Unfolds as Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren Goes Missing Amid ED Summons

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 30, 2024

Jharkhand has been thrown into political turmoil as Chief Minister Hemant Soren has gone missing after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned him for questioning in a money laundering case. The CM was untraceable for over 24 hours as the ED searched his Delhi residence, seizing cash, cars and documents. Soren finally surfaced in the state capital Ranchi last evening to chair a meeting of legislators from the ruling alliance as the opposition BJP accused him of “running away”.

Timeline of events

The current crisis began unfolding on Sunday when the ED summoned Soren to appear before it on Monday for questioning in a mining lease case.

  • On Sunday, ED officials arrived at Soren’s Delhi residence but could not meet him
  • On Monday morning, an ED team again reached his house and seized his BMW car and documents
  • Through the day, Soren remained untraceable with his phone switched off
  • The BJP accused Soren of “fleeing” to avoid questioning
  • Late Monday evening, Soren suddenly surfaced in Ranchi to chair a meeting of UPA MLAs
  • The meeting was held at the CM’s residence where Section 144 had been imposed
  • Soren is now expected to appear before the ED on Tuesday

The mining lease case

The ED has summoned Soren for questioning in a case relating to alleged illegal mining and money laundering. The case dates back to 2021 when BJP leader and former Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das accused Soren of granting himself a mining lease as the state Mining Minister.

As per the allegations, Soren misused his position to grant himself a stone mining lease in Ranchi district in 2021. This was done days before he assumed the office of CM.

The BJP accused Soren of violating Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which prohibits lawmakers from entering into contracts with the government. Following complaints, the Election Commission sent its opinion to Governor Ramesh Bais in August 2022 that Soren should be disqualified as an MLA.

However, no action has been taken so far on the EC opinion. Meanwhile, the ED launched a probe into the mining lease case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). This has now triggered the latest political drama in the state.

Reactions from political parties

Soren going incommunicado for over 24 hours has sparked a political storm in Jharkhand.

The BJP has accused Soren of fleeing from the law and claimed his legislators were preparing to elect his wife as the next CM. It also alleged a Rs 36 lakh cash recovery and seizure of two BMW cars from his Delhi home.

The Congress and JMM have hit back accusing the ED of harassment and “treating Soren like a criminal”. They alleged it was vendetta politics targetting a tribal CM over a small mining lease case. The JMM also claimed the ED action showed the ruling alliance was still strong.

Governor Ramesh Bais has asked Soren to comply with the investigating agency and “face the law”. He remarked “one has to cross the bridge when he reaches there” when asked if President’s Rule could be imposed.

What next for Soren and Jharkhand politics?

The ED is expected to question Soren at its regional office in Ranchi on Tuesday amid tight security. Speculations are rife he could be arrested after questioning.

If Soren is disqualified as an MLA, there may be a leadership crisis for the ruling alliance. The JMM could nominate his wife Kalpana Soren to take over as CM in such a scenario.

Being led by a tribal party, the alliance enjoys support among adivasis which comprise over 26% of the state’s population. The case poses a challenge to Soren who has accused the Centre of destabilising a tribal government.

It remains to be seen if he can save his CM chair or the turmoil results in the falling of the alliance government itself. The case is now a crucial test for the young Jharkhand CM with major political ramifications.

Statements and reactions

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren finally surfaced last evening after remaining untraceable for over 24 hours since the ED had summoned him for questioning. This led to a political slugfest in the state with various reactions:

Hemant Soren

After chairing the legislators’ meeting on Monday night, Soren said:

“I have faith in my MLAs…the BJP is trying to destabilise state governments across the country. They want to create an atmosphere where federalism fails and governments fall.”

JMM general secretary Suprio Bhattacharya

The JMM leader stated:

“The ED did not want Soren to appear for questioning, they wanted to arrest him. The agency treated our CM the way they treat criminals. This is nothing but political vendetta.”

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey

Dubey claimed:

“Soren is on the run most likely…he tried to flee to Raipur, Ranchi and then Delhi in the last 24 hours. He is afraid as his own MLAs will dethrone him soon and make his wife the CM ahead of his arrest.”

Congress spokesperson Ruchira Chaturvedi

The Congress leader alleged:

“The ED summons to Hemant Soren just before Republic Day shows the ruling dispensation is worried by the voices from Jharkhand…We will fight back.”

The case and reactions suggest major political realignments could occur in Jharkhand depending on how events unfold when Soren appears before the ED. The ruling alliance however remains confident of its numbers for now.

What is at stake for the JMM-Congress government

The ED action against CM Hemant Soren poses a political and numbers test for the ruling alliance amid searing tensions with the BJP. Here is an analysis on what is at stake:

Fate of the coalition

  • The JMM-Congress alliance is completing 3 years in power
  • The partnership delivered stability after years of political turmoil in the state
  • But the mining lease case can unravel the government if Soren is disqualified
  • Alliance currently has 49 MLAs – JMM 30, Congress 18, RJD 1 in the 82-member House

Survival without Soren

  • Alliance fate hangs by a thread if Soren loses CM chair
  • JMM could nominate wife Kalpana Soren as next CM
  • But questions remain on fate of government if Hemant is arrested
  • BJP central rule cannot be ruled out if ruling coalition loses majority

Importance of tribal vote bank

  • Adivasis are bedrock of JMM support in state
  • 27 seats reserved for ST, 13 more with 40%+ ST voters
  • Tribal consolidation behind Soren had unseated BJP in 2019
  • Survival of JMM-led government rests on keeping tribal base intact

While the alliance exists now, the ED case poses the biggest challenge to its stability since 2019. The outcome of Soren’s questioning and possible arrest will decide the next chapter in political developments.

About Hemant Soren

  • Current designation: Chief Minister of Jharkhand
  • Party: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha
  • Tenure as CM: December 2019 – Present
  • Age: 47 years
  • Political heritage: Son of former CM & JMM leader Shibu Soren

Profile

Hemant Soren is a young tribal leader who took over as Jharkhand’s 12th Chief Minister in December 2019, unseating the BJP in the assembly polls. He campaigned aggressively in the polls with support for tribal rights and land ownership reforms as main poll planks.

Soren was earlier CM for a brief period from July 2013 to December 2014. He took over the JMM after his father Shibu Soren began withdrawing from active politics.

Belonging to the Santhal ethnic tribe, Hemant Soren emerged as a prominent tribal face. He allied with Congress and RJD to assume office in 2019. He has however been embroiled in controversies including the latest mining lease case.

Seen as an emerging opposition face along with Tejashwi Yadav, Soren’s CM chair now faces a major test with the ED summons. The case also poses one of the biggest political crises for the state since his alliance came to power.

About the Enforcement Directorate (ED)

  • Formation: 1956 under the RBI Act
  • Current head: Sanjay Kumar Mishra
  • Mandate: Prevention of money laundering, forex violations
  • Powers: Arrest, seizure and raids under PMLA
  • Recent actions: Probe against Sonia, Rahul Gandhi; Arvind Kejriwal

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was formed in 1956 to tackle violations under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) which was later replaced by the FEMA. It is under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.

Key functions

  • Investigation and prosecution under the PMLA 2002
  • Implementing civil sections of FEMA and Fugitive Economic Offenders Act
  • Assisting Income Tax Department under Black Money Act

Recent controversies

The ED’s actions recently against opposition leaders has triggered allegations of being “political weapon” of the ruling BJP. Key recent controversies include:

  • Repeat summons to Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in National Herald case
  • Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal accused ED of targeting AAP leaders under Central pressure

The fresh action against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren has further stoked allegations of misusing central agencies to destabilise non-BJP state governments. It remains to be seen where the high-profile Jharkhand mining lease case ultimately leads.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post