Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Saturday asserted that his is an unprecedented case in which a criminal or an accused is pleading for punishment while the constitutional authorities that should have pronounced judgment are silent. Soren was referring to the threats of his disqualification as an MLA on the basis of the purported Election Commission advisory to Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais on August 25 in an office-of-profit case following a petition by the BJP. However, the Governor is maintaining silence on the issue.
Constitutional bodies that used to enjoy autonomy earlier are now being controlled by the central government, alleged Soren who is also the executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). “Have you ever heard of any example in the country in which a criminal or an accused is pleading for punishment or to know about the quantum of punishment? I have been appealing to His Excellency (the governor) with folded hands to pronounce the verdict, whatever be the punishment, Soren told a press conference here.
He lashed out at the BJP-led central government alleging that it has been misusing agencies such as Enforcement Directorate besides constitutional authorities to create disturbance in states ruled by non-BJP parties. “Who is responsible for this? If any criminal is holding a constitutional post and is repeatedly trying to know his crime, his punishment, make it clear (to him). We have not seen such instances in India’s history.
Our representatives met him (Governor), I met the Governor. We even applied through RTI to know the details,” Soren whose JMM-led coalition government will be completing three years in December said. He claimed that he felt ‘penalised’ and victimised’ in absence of transparency.
The prevalent situation is no less than punishment to me. I have been saying that if I committed a crime, how I am allowed to hold a constitutional post,” he said. Lashing out at the saffron party, the JMM leader said its leaders talk about ethics and morality but fail to follow the same.
“Our rivals talk of morality and ethics. What kind of ethics is this? This can be explained only by them. Who is answerable for this – the Governor, the Election Commission, or those who are backing them? I am unaware of the verdict but it seems our opponents know everything, Soren said. He alleged that the Centre was keeping mum on corruption cases against BJP leaders and ‘excessively misusing’ central forces against the opposition.
“Will Hemant Soren indulge in a scam for just 88 decimal of land?” Soren asked referring to the office of profit case. He claimed, without naming anyone, that constitutional authorities and experts such as former chief justice and former attorney general expressed opinions in his favour.
Following a petition by the BJP seeking Soren’s disqualification from the Assembly in an office of profit case, the EC sent its decision to the state Governor on August 25, sparking a political crisis in the state. Though the EC’s decision has not yet been made official, there is a buzz that the poll panel has recommended the chief minister’s disqualification as an MLA in connection with a mining lease.
Last month, the Soren government won the confidence vote in the Assembly by a comfortable margin amid apprehension that the ruling MLAs of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress would be poached to bring down the JMM-led regime. Lawmakers of the opposition BJP-led NDA, however, had staged a walkout. I don’t know whether the Governor knows it. We cannot run the government on what the opponents say. It is a democratically elected government and will be run in a constitutional manner. We are still waiting for the verdict,” the chief minister said.
Soren alleged that the autonomy that was enjoyed by constitutional bodies earlier was not there and they are being “controlled”. “See yesterday’s instance. The Election Commission announced Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh but not in Gujarat. Earlier these were scheduled as per a calendar but now there have been changes. There is some force controlling it,” he said.
It was expected that the announcement of election dates for the two states will be made together. On the drought situation in the state, Soren said an assessment was on and barring five to seven per cent area, the rest suffers from the calamity.
A report will be prepared in a fortnight and a special package will be sought from the Centre, the chief minister said. On the issue of Lokpal proceedings against JMM supremo Shibu Soren, the CM said the saffron party knew how to set political agenda.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had approached the Delhi High Court earlier this month, seeking to vacate its earlier order staying the proceedings initiated by the Lokpal against Shibu Soren based on his complaint on “corruption”. The matter is listed for further hearing on November 10. About a case where a class 12 student was burnt alive recently and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) claiming that the police were not cooperating, he said that they had fast-tracked the case.
On mob lynching cases, he said his government tried to bring anti-mob lynching legislation that was opposed by the BJP and alleged that during the saffron party’s previous five-year regime, the state had become a lynching pad.