Ranchi: The newly sworn-in Jharkhand Chief Minister Champai Soren, who took charge after the arrest of his predecessor Hemant Soren in a money laundering case, proved his majority in the state assembly on Monday. The Champai Soren-led coalition of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress, and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) secured 47 votes in favor of the confidence motion, while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies got 29 votes against it.
The floor test was held amid high security and tension, as Section 144 was imposed in the vicinity of the assembly. The ruling alliance had earlier accused the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs and had shifted them to Hyderabad to prevent any defection. The MLAs returned to Ranchi on Sunday, ahead of the crucial trust vote.
The trust vote was also marked by the dramatic appearance of Hemant Soren, the former chief minister and JMM leader, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 31 in connection with a land scam. He was brought to the assembly in ED custody after a special court permitted him to participate in the floor test. He lashed out at the BJP and the central agencies for targeting him and his government and claimed that he was innocent of the charges against him.
He also expressed his support for Champai Soren, who is his close aide and the transport minister in his cabinet. Champai Soren, in his speech, thanked Hemant Soren for his leadership and said that he was a student of Shibu Soren, the JMM supremo and Hemant Soren’s father. He said that Hemant Soren’s welfare schemes would continue under his government and that he would work for the development of the state and the tribals.
He also alleged that the BJP was misusing the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to destabilize the democratically elected government in Jharkhand and that his arrest from the Raj Bhavan was a black night for the country’s democracy. He appealed to the MLAs and the people to save democracy and Hemant Soren from the BJP’s conspiracy.
The BJP, on the other hand, denied any role in Hemant Soren’s arrest and said that he was facing the consequences of his corruption. The BJP also questioned the credibility of Champai Soren as the chief minister and said that he was a puppet of Hemant Soren and the Congress. The BJP also claimed that the ruling alliance was not united and that some of its MLAs were unhappy with the leadership change.
The trust vote was the second one in Jharkhand’s history, after the first one in 2000 when Babulal Marandi became the first chief minister of the state after its formation. The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance had come to power in 2019, after defeating the BJP-led government of Raghubar Das in the assembly elections. The alliance has 47 MLAs in the 81-member house, while the BJP has 25, the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has three, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) have one each. There are also three independent MLAs in the house.