MLAs of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led alliance are reportedly being moved to Hyderabad after the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) move to arrest former chief minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday, January 31.
The move to shift the MLAs comes amid the political turmoil in Jharkhand after Soren was taken into custody by the ED.
Reports suggest that the MLAs are being moved to Hyderabad by the evening on Wednesday in order to address fears of alleged horse-trading by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The party has been part of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), which is a coalition of political parties in Jharkhand. The Mahagathbandhan was formed before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and consists of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Indian National Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and the Nationalist Congress Party.
BJP govt suppressing voices: Oppn
The BJP government is suppressing the voice of the opposition through agencies such as the ED, opposition leaders alleged on Thursday, a day after JMM leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was arrested on money laundering charges.
BJP leaders, however, said he was arrested according to the law.
In a quick turn of events, the executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) — a member of the opposition INDIA bloc — was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday night after more than seven hours of questioning in an alleged land fraud case.
The bloc formed to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections comprises opposition parties such as the Congress, the AAP, the RJD, the TMC, the DMK and the Samajwadi Party.
On the JMM leader’s arrest, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Saugata Roy said, “It is part of the government’s efforts to stifle the opposition. The ED and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) are the main arms of the government to stifle the opposition.”
Champai Soren named chief minister
Soren had resigned ahead of his arrest, and named Jharkhand Transport Minister Champai Soren as his successor. He has also moved the Jharkhand High Court challenging his arrest in the case.
While Congress leader Karti Chidambaram said it is “election season and the ED needs no reason”, Nationalist Congress Party MP Fauzia Khan questioned why agencies like the ED and the CBI only raided opposition leaders.
“It has been very clear in all these days, all ED raids, Income Tax raids are on members of the opposition. The BJP is like a washing machine, if you go to that side you become clean, and if you are on the opposition’s side you are arrested,” she said.
Attack on oppn ahead of LS polls: AAP
AAP leader and Delhi Minister Atishi in a post on ‘X’ said, “Hemant Soren’s arrest is an attempt by the BJP-led central government to attack the opposition before the Lok Sabha elections. I am sure that many more opposition leaders will get arrested in the next one month…”.
Her cabinet colleague Saurabh Bharadwaj on ‘X’ alleged that leaders who do not bow before the BJP are put behind bars.
By getting Soren arrested, the BJP had shown its “anti-tribal” mindset, AAP chief national spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar.
BJP leaders alleged that the Soren had indulged in corruption.
“Hemant Soren ji kept saying that he should be arrested if he has done something wrong… He has been arrested because he did something wrong,” BJP MP from Hazaribagh Jayant Sinha said.
“We the people of Jharkhand could see how corrupt this government is,” he said.
Nobody above law: BJP
BJP leader PP Chaudhary said nobody is above the law. “Whether it is the CM or anyone else, nobody is above the law of the land. If they have committed an economic offence, it is the job of agencies to take action,” he said.
Republican Party of India (A) leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said the ED is an independent agency.
“Opposition can make allegations, but the ED is an independent agency. He should have been arrested long ago. No one is above the law,” said Athawale, whose party is a BJP ally.
Soren has been arrested on allegations of money laundering, pertaining to alleged illegal possession of certain immovable assets, apart from his purported links with members of the “land mafia”.
The ED has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who had served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
(With excerpts from PTI)