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What Are Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Options Now

Hemant Soren Faces Disqualification: Here Are 5 Key Options He Has Now

Hemant Soren faces moral questions, besides legal, over his disqualification.

New Delhi:
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren will have a few options if he is disqualified as legislator for having a mining contract with the state government despite being in office.

Here are the top 5 options he can exercise

  1. The Governor — following the Election Commission’s report after hearings on BJP’s plea — will announce the disqualification, sources have told NDTV. This means Mr Soren loses his assembly membership. He and his cabinet will then have to resign. So, can he retake the chief minister’s chair immediately, because generally one doesn’t need to be MLA already to hold that post? The simple answer is yes. 

  2. There’s some grey area, though. If a legislator is disqualified under the anti-defection law, he cannot be minister until re-elected as member of the legislature. Will that precedent apply here? In Mr Soren’s case, the disqualification is not under the anti-defection law. Here, Section 9A of the Representation of People Act applies, for which the key question — does he need to be re-elected first? — hasn’t yet been settled by any constitutional court.   

  3. After Mr Soren’s seat falls vacant, Election Commission has to hold a bypoll within six months. Mr Soren can recontest. The JMM-Congress may have to elect an interim chief minister until that happens. Even in that case, Hemant Soren can be chief minister again after first becoming MLA again. He could’ve had it worse. Law says an MLA found guilty of conflict of interest can also be barred from contesting elections for up to five years, as per experts. But sources say, in Mr Soren’s case, that won’t happen.

  4. Politically as well, it’s not such a straight line. Weakened after corruption charges, he may have to placate some factions. Already there were allegations that the BJP is trying to topple the government, after three JMM legislators were caught with Rs 50 lakh cash in Bengal. The BJP has denied those allegations. Those MLAs have said they were in Kolkata to buy saris. But a lot has been read between the lines, particularly with the BJP’s return to power in Maharashtra after a coup in the Shiv Sena.

  5. While Hemant Soren works out his individual troubles, the JMM-Congress alliance can flaunt numbers. The assembly has 82 members, of which the JMM has 30, Congress 17 — an easy majority of 47. Plus, it has support from smaller groups too. But the MLAs-with-cash fiasco in Bengal shows there may be fissures. The BJP leads the Opposition with 25 members of its own, as per the Vidhan Sabha website. It has been demanding mid-term polls “on moral grounds”. But minister and Congress leader Alamgir Alam has ruled out any threat to the government: “Hemant Soren continues to be our leader.” 

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