Hemant slams BJP, guv as JMM clears floor test | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Hemant slams BJP, guv as JMM clears floor test

By, Ranchi
Feb 06, 2024 04:40 AM IST

The JMM-led alliance garnered the support of 47 of the 77 members who voted in the 81-member state assembly

Former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren called his arrest on January 31 a “black night” that marks a “black chapter” in Indian democracy, even as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led alliance, now helmed by his close aide Champai Soren, sailed through in the trust vote in the Jharkhand assembly on Monday.

Jharkhand CM Champai Soren with Hemant Soren in Ranchi on Monday. (ANI)
Jharkhand CM Champai Soren with Hemant Soren in Ranchi on Monday. (ANI)

A day after its legislators returned from Hyderabad, where they spent two days to avoid the prospect of poaching ahead of the floor test, the alliance garnered the support of 47 of the 77 members who voted in the 81-member state assembly. The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP, had 29 legislators on its side.

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The floor test caps a dramatic 10 days in Jharkhand – with allegations that Hemant Soren had “disappeared” from his Delhi residence on January 28 while Enforcement Directorate (ED) sleuths were looking for him, his re-emergence in Ranchi on January 30, his questioning for seven hours the next day, his resignation as chief minister, and finally the arrest by ED. The alliance picked Champai, 67, as leader in his stead, but the nominee had to make three trips to the Raj Bhavan over two days before he was sworn in on February 2.

READ | Kapil Sibal explains what will now happen in Hemant Soren case

Speaking in the assembly before the trust vote commenced – he was allowed to participate by the Jharkhand high court — Hemant Soren said that he would quit politics if the ED could produce a shred of documentary evidence that he owned the 8.5-acre land parcel at the centre of the money laundering allegations that led to his arrest. “A black night and a black chapter was added to the democracy of the country on the night of January 31. I think this is the first time in the country’s history that a chief minister or even a former CM was arrested from inside the Raj Bhavan. I think that even Raj Bhawan was involved in this episode,” Soren said in the state assembly.

The office of governor CP Radhakrishnan did not comment despite calls and messages seeking a response.

The former chief minister arrived at the assembly premises at around 10.45am,surrounded by ED and CRPF personnel, and was greeted by legislators of the ruling alliance raising slogans of “Hemant Soren zindabad” and “Jai Jharkhand”. The ED and CRPF personnel were not allowed inside the assembly building, and Soren was eventually taken back to ED’s zonal office at around 2.15pm.

Soren has been remanded in ED custody till February 8.

In his speech, Hemant Soren, who is also the JMM’s executive president, alleged that tribals and Dalits were not safe under the BJP’s rule at the Centre. He said that the BJP considered tribals “untouchables”, and that it was no coincidence that no tribal CM in the state was allowed to complete a full five-year term.

READ | ‘Hemant Soren did the same’: BJP leader on Kejriwal skipping ED summons for 5th time

“I knew they would do the same to me. But I will not shed any tears now. I will give a befitting reply to these feudal forces at the appropriate time, and will return with more strength. When the Ram Mandir was consecrated at Ayodhya on January 22, the BJP had said it would bring Ram Rajya. But the first thing they have done is to destabilise governments in Bihar, and then in Jharkhand,” Hemant Soren said.

Alleging that ED was not willing to allow him to speak during the floor test, the JMM leader said, “The court directed that I need not speak to the media. But ED officials said I can’t speak in the assembly either. I told them to consult the speaker... the days are not far when arrests will be made from Vidhan Sabha and Parliament.”

The BJP’s Amar Bauri, who is the leader of the Opposition in the assembly, responded that the former CM had reaped what he had sown. “He might be a tribal leader but he is not necessarily the leader of the tribal community. Instead of him asking us to prove the charges, he should take it up before the ED and the court,” Bauri said.

New chief minister Champai Soren was the first to speak on Monday, calling the government headed by him “Hemant Soren Part-II”.

“The people ruling the central government are misusing agencies. In 2019, Hemant got the mandate of the people and did exemplary work in the past four years, two of which were during the pandemic. Such a CM is arrested in a land scam case where there is no document to prove that the land is in his name,” Champai said.

He added, “We will expand the cabinet in two or three days. The government is back on track, and we will give additional thrust to development work launched by the Hemant Soren government.”

The 47 votes for the treasury benches included 27 from the JMM, 17 from the Congress, one each from the RJD and the CPI(ML), and one from the lone Anglo-Indian nominated member of the house. The opposition NDA received support from 25 MLAs from the BJP, three from ally AJSU, and the lone NCP(Pawar) member. Saryu Roy, an independent legislator, did not vote for either side.

Hemant Soren completed over four years as CM, after being emerging victorious in the 2019 assembly elections. However, Champai Soren will get only around nine months, with the state scheduled to go to the polls in November-December this year.

According to officials aware of the matter, ED has evidence that Soren is a key beneficiary in alleged land related irregularities in Ranchi, where a network of brokers and businessmen allegedly worked over the years to create fake deeds of ownership of land parcels by forging records in the registrar offices and further selling them off.

Independent political observer Sudhir Pal said that the JMM’s electoral fortunes in the coming elections will depend on how long Hemant Soren spends in prison, “even as the party seems to have portrayed to its core voter base that the BJP is against the tribal community.”

“One major challenge is arranging this transfer of power to someone outside the family. In the past, we have seen problems arising due to the growing ambitions of other leaders. Hemant Soren is also their biggest face. We have seen how he single-handedly led the campaign in 2019,” said Pal.

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