A big political crisis is brewing in Jharkhand after the resignation of Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday night, minutes after he handed over his resignation letter to the Governor. A state-wide bandh call was given by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha on Thursday, while the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition challenging his arrest on Friday. After evading interrogation for the last two months, Soren was arrested by ED after seven hours of marathon questioning, during which he reportedly gave evasive answers in the land scam.
Even as questioning was going on, an FIR was lodged by Jharkhand Police against ED officials under the Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act on the basis of a complaint sent by Soren. Buses were chartered to carry MLAs to Raj Bhavan, where a letter claiming election of JMM vice-president Champai Soren as the legislative party leader was submitted. Though Champai Soren has not yet been invited to form government till now, there are reports that the MLAs may be sent to some other state to stop ‘poaching’ amid speculations that all is not well in the JMM over the choice of chief minister.
Hemant Soren had been evading ED summons because he wanted ED to question and arrest him on his own territory. The motive behind this was to garner political advantage among tribal voters who are considered as traditional supporters of JMM. Hemant Soren wants to convey the message that a tribal leader like him is being harassed by Modi government. He tried his best to make his wife Kalpana Soren as the CM, but there were rumblings in his own family and party, with other claimants pitching in. Minutes before his arrest, a video message from Hemant Soren was posted on social media, which said, “The ED has come to arrest me today. After questioning me for the entire day, they have decided to arrest me in a planned manner, on an issue which is not linked to me. They (ED) found no evidence, they even tried to tarnish my image by conducting raids in Delhi.”
In Hindi, a poetic tweet was posted by the outgoing CM, which read, “This is a break. Life is a long battle. I have fought and I will fight every moment, but I will never beg for compromise. I shall not be afraid, whether in defeat or victory. I will not forget the pain in the hearts of my people. I will never accept defeat. Jai Jharkhand.”
The arrest of Hemant Soren will surely give a new turn to Jharkhand politics. It will also be a challenge for the Enforcement Directorate, which has arrested a chief minister, who is a tribal leader. ED will have to convincingly prove its charges against Hemant Soren in court.
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