Jharkhand Transport Minister Champai Soren, who was named as JMM legislative party leader on Wednesday, said he staked claim to form the new government in Jharkhand with the support of 47 legislators. The development comes after Hemant Soren resigned as Jharkhand Chief Minister following more than seven hours of questioning by the ED in a money laundering case.
Meanwhile, JMM’s Rajya Sabha MP Mahua Maji claimed that the 48-year-old Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.
Hemant Soren tendered his resignation to Governor CP Radhakrishnan at the Raj Bhavan.
“Hemant Soren has resigned as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. The ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has proposed the name of senior JMM leader Champai Soren as the new CM,” state Congress president Rajesh Thakur said.
“We have staked a claim to form the new government with the support of 47 MLAs,” Champai Soren told reporters.
Earlier, the legislators gathered at Hemant Soren’s residence elected the transport minister Champai Soren as the leader of the JMM legislative party with the party spokesperson Vinod Pandey saying that a consensus was reached on his name.
A legislator from the Serikela assembly constituency for more than three decades since 1991, Champai Soren is known to be a loyalist of JMM supremo Shibu Soren.
Born in November 1956 at Jilinggora village in Jharkhand’s Seraikela-Kharsawan district, Champai Soren is a matriculate and father of seven children. He is the son of a farmer and is not related to the Hemant Soren’s family.
ED questions Hemant Soren over 7 hours
Sources claimed 48-year-old Soren was “evasive” in his replies during his questioning and hence was taken into custody under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED is expected to produce Soren before a special PMLA court in Ranchi and the agency will seek his remand for custodial interrogation, the sources said.
What was the case?
The allegations of money laundering against the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader pertain to the alleged illegal possession of certain immovable assets apart from his purported links with members of the ‘land mafia’. The investigation is linked to a “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand, according to the central probe agency. The ED has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi. An employee of the Jharkhand land revenue department, Bhanu Prasad Prasad, was also arrested by the agency in the case.
The ED is probing the alleged “huge amounts of proceeds of crime generated by manipulation of official records by showing dummy sellers and purchasers in the guise of forged/ bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores”.
(With PTI inputs)