Around 1971, the founder of Jharkhand Mukti MorchaAmong them Shibu Soren started a rebellion against illegal mining in the coal belt of a part of Bihar at that time. Soren’s son and two-time Chief Minister Hemant Soren has got the mining lease after more than 50 years.
As the Election Commission looks into allegations of office of profit in the lease being given to the CM, who heads both the mining and environment departments, Hemant is looking at the possibility of disqualification.
When he first became CM in 2013, the state’s youngest at 38, BIT Mesra’s engineering student and “reluctant politician” saw it as a break from the resource-rich state’s brief but tainted history of political scandals had gone. Property. One of the biggest page-turners in this history was Shibu Soren’s own conviction for allegedly taking money to save the PV Narasimha Rao Congress government at the Centre.
Hemant appears to have left this past behind, especially when he brought the JMM back to power in 2019 with a majority after its 2014 defeat.
Only 10 years after Hemant – who contested and lost in 2005 – emerged as the heir to his father’s legacy after the death of his brother Durga.
JMM insiders talk about how Hemant didn’t let the 2014 defeat hold him back and went on to tighten his grip on the party.
In the first phase of his second term as CM, he became known for taking quick decisions, being accessible through Twitter for complaints or suggestions; Handling the COVID crisis well, keeping deaths under 5,500; Sarkar Aapke Dwar programme, bringing government to the doorsteps of the people; And recently a migrant control room to handle the problems of unorganized workers from Sri Lanka.
However, a source admitted, “Gradually the perception has shifted from governance to misgovernance”. “Whether it is rising corruption at the grassroots level or in MGNREGA, which Hemant himself called the backbone of the rural economy… Governance on social media has also slowed down,” the source says. According to the source, the ‘chatkars’ who surrounded Soren are responsible for this. “They have narrowed down their worldview and the mining lease is a good example.”
During the hearing on April 8 on a petition filed against Soren on the issue, Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan said the state had made a “mistake” in granting the lease. The Advocate General told the court that this was a “violation of the code of conduct” but there was no statutory or constitutional violation “even if” Hemant Khan was engaged in a certain occupation while holding the post of minister. The AG said the CM “later recused himself from it, surrendered the lease”.
Sources close to the government believe that the entire incident portrayed the government in a “very bad light”. A source close to him says, “The chief minister holds the mining department and is expressing regret for the state mining department, which had given the mining lease to the chief minister. It is absurd, even if he has surrendered. Why was it released in the first place?”
One of Hemant’s closest aides who is now on the firing line is his press advisor Abhishek Prasad who is with him 24 hours a day.
The clouds of mining do not hang only on Hemant. Dumka MLA Bhai Basant Soren has also got the Election Commission notice as he is the director of a company which also has some mining leases.
Last week, IAS officer and mining secretary Pooja Singhal was being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for her alleged role in a money laundering case in which over Rs 19 crore was raided.
Meanwhile, a third Soren, Durga’s wife Sita, also drinks water for Hemant. Jama’s MLA, Hemant’s sister-in-law, has alleged “corruption” and “misrule” in his government. On 1 April, Sita sent a letter to the governor stating that a company was illegally using forest land to transport coal, and accused the ruling JMM of betraying its founding principles of protecting ‘Jal, Jungle, Zameen’. Charged.
Another source wishes that something good would come out of the growing problems. “Protest is a good thing and we hope it will end with a change in the functioning of the party,” he said. Because till now there is no one to advise the government properly.
A leader says that if both the Soren brothers are disqualified, then in a worst-case scenario, the political center stage will shift to Santhal Parganas. The Santhal Pargana family fort is where Shibu Soren began his political trajectory. Dumka and Barhait will be crucial for Hemant and Basant to win back their seats and prove to be a political point.
The party is relying on the opinion of legal experts that even if disqualified, Hemant can remain CM for at least six months and will have the right to appeal.
Expert SK Mendiratta, who worked with the Election Commission for 50 years, said Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, which deals with ineligibility for government contracts (MPs, MLAs), states that there are two scenarios where a person may be disqualified. “First that a person supplies his goods to the government in the course of his business. Second, contracts are awarded for the execution of works. But the Supreme Court has said in the past that not all contracts attract disqualification. In the present case, to the best of my knowledge, there is no supply of goods. Second, with regard to mining lease, the interpretation of the previous judgment of the Supreme Court states that the word ‘work’ has a significance … it comes under the definition of work … as far as I understand, As per the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the issue of mining lease does not attract Section 9A.”
With his family facing another political crisis, 78-year-old Shibu Soren, the ‘guruji’ of Jharkhand politics now largely lives in the background. According to a family member, “He is sick, and we don’t bother him with these things.”
In 1960, when he was just 16 years old, Shibu Soren first came into the limelight when his father was allegedly murdered by moneylenders. After Soren launched a campaign against the moneylenders of the Santhal Pargana region and liberated thousands of acres of tribal land, his position as a leader was firmly established.
In a 1980 interview for a book by Shailendra Mahto, a two-time MP from Jamshedpur, Soren talked about how his father was an “active Congress leader”, none of them came to see his body. .
The JMM bribery case was the first blot on Soren’s image. In 2006, he was also found guilty of kidnapping and murdering his former private secretary Shashinath Jha, though he was acquitted a year later. In 2009, he became the CM for the third and last time.
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