The arrests of three Jharkhand Congress MLAs with huge cash in Howrah – a week after nine of its MLAs were suspected of cross-voting in the presidential election – a signal that the stability of the Hemant Soren government is under threat. getting bigger.
In fact, since the split of the Shiv Sena and the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, there is talk of an imminent political crisis in Jharkhand.
While Congress is putting up a brave face saying that there is no threat to the stability of the JMM-Congress-RJD coalition government, the fact is that the party is not sure of the next move of many of its MLAs, including some states. Ministers are also included.
What surprised many at the party is that the AICC in charge of Avinash Pande was in Ranchi for three days from Thursday. He met all the MLAs individually, including Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Bixal — the three MLAs who are now under arrest and who stand suspended from the party after being caught allegedly with around Rs 50 lakh in cash — and also took a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party. He had heard the “concerns” of the MLAs and asked them to stay united. But just as he landed in Delhi from Ranchi on Saturday, he was greeted by news of the detention of the three MLAs in Howrah.
Congress sources said the three were among the nine suspects who voted for President Draupadi Murmu. Pandey had spoken of identifying those people who did cross-voting in Ranchi and vowed to take action against them. While the party today announced the suspension of three MLAs, it is uncertain how the situation will pan out. At least half a dozen more of its MLAs are on the suspect list, sources said.
The Congress high command was aware of the escalating tension in Jharkhand, where JMM leader and Chief Minister Hemant Soren is facing an office of profit issue. The Election Commission is hearing a plea seeking disqualification of Soren for alleged abuse of his office by allotting himself a stone quarry lease on government land when he was the minister in charge of mines in 2021. . Soren is also under pressure over the recent arrest. Enforcement Directorate of Pankaj Mishra, his aide in the mining case.
There was talk in the Congress that many of its MLAs are in touch with the BJP amid growing distrust among the alliance partners. Congress leaders, on the other hand, were claiming that all is well in the party and speculations are rife that it may be Soren who may switch sides and join hands with the BJP. The unilateral announcement of its candidate for the Rajya Sabha election by the JMM and the decision to extend support to Murmu was seen by Congress as an ominous sign.
However, several Congress leaders were warning the leadership that a section of its MLAs (at least eight, according to one leader) is in touch with the BJP and if the number goes up to 12, the breakdown will reach two. – The third mark is to avoid provisions of the anti-defection law.
Pandey told The Indian Express that he was in Ranchi in May and June for the presidential election and later from Thursday to Saturday.
“We had a CLP meeting. We had personal meetings. We had resolved the grievances of some of our leaders with the Chief Minister. I was there for the joint meeting of both sides. We had dinner too… The purpose of going there and having a meeting with leaders and MLAs is not just for a simple chit-chat. It aims to identify and address issues and problems.
Pandey said he was preparing a report on the cross-voting episode and would soon submit it to the Congress president. “These three MLAs were there (among those who cross-voted). That’s all I can confirm. About others… that will not go unnoticed,” he said. While they tried to link the cross-voting with the arrest of MLAs, many leaders believe that it was all part of a bigger plan being hatched by the BJP to change the equation in Jharkhand.