Ranchi | Jagran News Desk: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Monday found himself in trouble after the Election Commission of India (ECI) sent him a notice over a mining lease granted in his name in alleged violation of Section 9A of the Representation of Peoples' Act 1951.

In its notice, the poll body asked the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief why action should not be taken against him over the allotment of a mining lease. "The commission wanted to give him a fair chance to present his stand on these serious charges. He has been given time till May 10 to respond to the notice," news agency PTI quoted a functionary as saying.

What are the allegations against Soren?

The matter is related with an alleged grant of a mining lease to Soren in June 2021. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused Soren and his aides of irregularities in land allotment saying, "his wife has been given 11 acres of land in an industrial area."

"Chief Minister Hemant Soren's wife has been given 11 acres of land in an industrial area. The Chief Minister heads the industry department, so he should explain if this allotment was done in his knowledge and influence," news agency ANI quoted former Chief Minister Raghubar Das as saying.

"Besides, Chief Minister's media advisor Abhishek Prasad got the lease in the name of one Shiv Shakti enterprise in Sahebganj district of 11.70-acre land on April 8, 2021. As per government records, Rs 90 lakh investment has also been made in this area," Das added.

The mining lease violates Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act that deals with disqualification of a lawmaker for government contract. If the charges are proved, Soren - who hold the mining portfolio - may stand disqualified as a member of the state assembly.

"A person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that government," reads the section.

BJP eyes lost ground

The BJP had lost the 2019 Jharkhand assembly elections to the JMM-Congress combine. The JMM and Congress bagged 30 and 16 seats respectively, while the BJP got 25 seats in 81-member legislative assembly of Jharkhand.

However, the saffron party is looking to bag the lost ground in the minieral state. "The chief minister got allotted the mining lease on his name, completely misusing the constitutional position he holds," state BJP president Deepak Prakash was quoted as saying by ANI.

"This amount the matter under the office of profit provisions. There has been no Chief Minister in the history of the country who has taken lease in his name. If any moral values are left with him, he should immediately resign or will have to face the legal consequences," he added.

JMM's counter remarks

Hitting back at the BJP, the JMM has alleged that the saffron party is trying to "create an atmosphere of political turmoil" in Jharkhand in a bid to destabilise the state government. It also said that the stone mining does not constitute "works undertaken by the Government".

"In any event, the mining lease agreement which was executed by Shri Soren was not acted upon and is not subsisting. Thus, none of the essential conditions stipulated for triggering Section 9 (A) are present in the case of Shri Hemant Soren," it said, as reported by NDTV.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma