It's been an eventful week in Jharkhand, reinforcing the idiomatic phrase a week is indeed a long time in politics. The arrest of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday night, left the doors open not just for floor test but for MLA poaching and all the political twists that Parliamentary form of democracy has to offer. However, shortly after the arrest of the former CM by India's financial crimes agency, JMM leader Champai Soren was elected as the leader of the legislative party. On Friday afternoon, the 67-year-old six time lawmaker took oath as the Chief Minister, while backed by 43 MLAs from the ruling JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha), Congress and Rashtriya Dal alliance.
Hemant Soren's controversial arrest
On Wednesday night, the ED arrested Soren in a money laundering case, further fuelling strong allegations of India's financial crimes agency being unleashed on the opposition leaders by the current Union Government. The ED on its part claims that it has evidence of Soren being the key beneficiary in the case involving land related irregularities in Ranchi. Hemant Soren has denied all the allegations and calls his arrest politically motivated. "They are accusing me of crimes I have not committed and have nothing to do with.
The land scam I am being accused of is pertaining to the land that never gets sold. They did not find any evidence against me, raided in Delhi and found nothing. They have spent the entire day questioning and know that courts shut in the evening and hence their decision to arrest me also came in the evening. I have nothing to do with the land and I am being implicated on the basis of fake papers." On Friday, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Ranchi granted Soren's custody to ED for five days. Hours before the above development, Hemant Soren's appeal before the Supreme Court was dismissed with the Apex Court the JMM leader to approach the state High Court for relief.
Floor test is pending
After being invited by Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan on Thursday night, Friday afternoon Champai Soren took oath as the new CM. However, the oath taking ceremony could not take place, before a lot of speculation up in the air and the possibility of many a political twists in the plot. Earlier Champai Soren, while accompanied by several JMM lawmakers, could not meet the governor Radhakrishnan, again leading to instant speculations that BJP may be preparing to poach the MLAs and form the government.
Champai Soren will be required to prove his majority in a floor test on February 5, pending which Jharkhand MLAs have been flown to Hyderabad for "safe-keeping" till Monday. The MLAs were flown in two chartered aircrafts and were received by senior Congress leaders before being escorted to a private resort to avoid any possibility of poaching. On Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, said the INDIA bloc stopped the BJP from toppling over the popular mandate in the state. The developments once again led to the debates on horse-trading in politics, the culture of poaching lawmakers and the ineffectiveness of Anti-defection law.