DC Edit | Change of Jharkhand CMs a masterstroke by JMM?

The Jharkhand government must go on. It cannot stop for an individual even if he was the scion of the ruling family and chief minister. The process of the government continuing in the hands of a veteran legislator was enabled by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha deciding in time that the Hemant Soren situation had to be faced head-on rather than wait for a ruling by courts on the legality of the arrest of the chief minister of a state.

In fact, it was a political masterstroke that saw the timely election of Mr Champai Soren as chief minister by JMM legislators who did not give in to moves that would have mirrored the insult to the intelligence of the electorate as delivered in India’s political history by a replacement candidate moving from a cowshed to a high state office just to serve a family whose patriarch in the CM’s seat was under pressure from investigation.

The proposal that any member of the family should replace Mr Hemant Soren was shot down and Mr Champai Soren elected to be the chief minister and was sworn in by the governor who carried out his constitutional duty by inviting the party with the majority not allowing much time for any trading of MLAs to go on. While he has given him 10 days to prove majority, Champai Soren is to seek the trust vote on Monday.

The highest judiciary may have been chary of ruling on the legality of arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of money laundering and benefitting from tribal land transactions on the strength of forged documents, which Hemant faced.

Asking the aggrieved party to go to the high court might mean inordinate delay in any verdict on a crucial issue of whether a CM can be arrested and if so what about the greater political implications of such action and its effect on the polity. It is best that the legality is ruled upon by the highest court in the land.

The matter of states under a party other than the ruling party at the Centre coming under pressure from investigations cannot be left hanging as it is widely known that the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is also under the ED lens and, wary of the risks of arrest as it was in the case of Hemant Soren, has been ignoring multiple summonses.

The sight of chief ministers refusing to answer ED or CBI summons and complying with the utmost reluctance and after dragging their feet, does not augur well for clean politics when the probity of high constitutional functionaries comes under the scanner, however inspired such moves by the investigators may seem.

The charge that the ruling party at the Centre is responsible for Central investigating agencies acting with alacrity in the case of members of the Opposition who hold office in states is not to be dismissed lightly considering the rampant activity of the investigating agencies when Lok Sabha polls are round the corner.

Descending as it does to a political slugfest more than a judicial scrutiny of charges, thanks in large measure to the inability of the investigating agencies to prove in court the alleged financial skulduggery of graft, it is better if a time-bound forensic examination is undertaken by an independent fraud squad. But then it is apparent that the process of inquiry itself is a punishment in India.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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