Jharkhand: Facing ED heat, Hemant Soren works sympathy plan

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Political corridors in Ranchi are abuzz with speculations that the chief minister may pass on the major responsibility of the JMM as well as the Jharkhand government to his wife Kalpana Soren.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 2: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren appears bracing for an arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the ‘Office for Profit’ case. Sensing that the ED may arrest him after he once more refused to respond to the seventh summon of the investigative agency, Soren has begun working on ‘Plan B’ to maintain his hold in the state government as well as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Political corridors in Ranchi are abuzz with speculations that the chief minister may pass on the major responsibility of the JMM as well as the Jharkhand government to his wife Kalpana Soren. The basis for the buzz is the sudden resignation of JMM MLA Sarfaraz Ahmed from the Gandey Assembly seat in Jharkhand.

The ED in the seventh summon had given the chief minister two days’ of time to reply to join the probe in the ‘Office for Profit’ case. It may be recalled that Soren is inviting the probe following the decision to approve the re-allotment of a coal mine in his name while he held also the ministry of mines in Jharkhand. Some of the close aides of the chief minister have already been interrogated by the investigative agency.

The chief minister has been seen in the comoany of his wife in his trips to parts of the state which is being seen as a signal that Kalpana Soren can fill in the space if he is arrested by the ED. The political observers in Jharkhand are also arguing that the Gandey Assembly seat is a general category constituency. Kalpana Soren if she becomes the chief minister of the state can contest from the Gandey Assembly seat.

It may be noted that Kalpana Soren cannot contest from a reserved constituency as she hails from Odisha. Thus, it’s being said in the political corridors that Sarfaraz Ahmed has vacated his seat as a stop gap arrangement for Kalpana Soren to contest Assembly byelection if her husband is arrested by the ED.

However, section of political observers also argue that Hemant Soren is clearly eyeing sympathy votes in the Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly polls, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would certainly be aware of his calculations. Jharkhand Assembly elections will also be held this year alongwith Haryana and Maharashtra. The chief minister may count on the sympathy votes in the elections if he is arrested by the ED.

Former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had appointed his wife Rabri Devi in his place when he was arrested by the CBI in the fodder scam. Leadership of the JMM on the lines of the RJD has always been within the Soren family.

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