EC sends opinion to Governor on disqualification plea against Jharkhand CM’s brother Basant Soren

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sent its opinion on the disqualification matter pertaining to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MLA Basant Soren, state Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s brother, to Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais, The Indian Express has learned.

The EC had concluded its hearings on August 29 in the reference received from Bais. Sources said Bais received the EC opinion on the matter on Friday evening.

The governor had sought the commission’s view on a complaint filed by state BJP members seeking Basant Soren’s disqualification from the state Assembly under Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for co-owning a mining firm and not disclosing it in his election affidavit. Section 9A prohibits elected representatives from entering into any contract with the government for “supply of goods” or “execution of any works undertaken” by it.

The development comes two weeks after the EC had recommended the Jharkhand chief minister’s disqualification under the same section (Section 9A) for allegedly misusing his position to allot a stone mining lease to himself last year.

The state has been in the throes of political turmoil as Bais, to date, has not officially apprised the state government of the EC’s view on the eligibility of CM Hemant Soren to continue as MLA. The JMM has since alleged attempts by the BJP to poach the ruling alliance’s MLAs, and taken 32 of them from Ranchi to Raipur in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh.

The JMM memorandum to the governor stated that “purported selective leaks from your (the Governor’s) office” on the issue have led to a “state of chaos, confusion and uncertainty, which vitiates the administration and the governance of the state”.

“This also encourages political brinkmanship to destabilise the democratically elected government headed by CM Soren by illegal means. Although Your Excellency is yet to declare the EC opinion, which is given in confidence to you…BJP has made public the opinion and demanded resignation of the CM, mid-term polls. As you are undoubtedly aware, disqualification, if any, of the CM will not have any effect on the government as the JMM-INC-RJD-Independents coalition will still enjoy an overwhelming majority,” the memorandum stated.

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