The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Conscience calls, late

Ranchi, March 11: Shibu Soren looked disgruntled as he emerged from his meeting with the governor tonight, setting off whispers that he was reluctant to relinquish his crown.

Appearing displeased after answering governor Syed Sibtey Razi's 9.30 summons, the dethroned leader whizzed through the Raj Bhavan gates in his motorcade, past waiting reporters whom he refused to entertain.

Heading straight home, Soren confined himself to a room and refused to meet even his own party members. Official sources said his papers reached the Raj Bhavan at 11.15 pm and were immediately accepted by the governor.

At a news conference soon after, Soren announced he had decided to step down because he was unsure whether he would be able to win the trust vote.

'I did not have the adequate numbers and so my conscience did not allow me to continue as chief minister,' he said, adding his colleagues were one with him on the decision.

Soren blamed 'vested interests' for blowing out of proportion the developments in the state. 'My fight against the oppressors will continue regardless of whether I am in power or not,' he said.

Had the Centre not stepped in and asked Soren to resign, an unprecedented constitutional deadlock would have developed in Jharkhand where the Assembly was adjourned this afternoon without holding the floor test mandated by the Supreme Court.

Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, who was in the chair, adjourned proceedings till Tuesday after concurring with the views of United Progressive Alliance MLAs that a temporary Speaker did not have the authority to conduct a trust vote.

By the end of the day ' after uproarious scenes in the House and six adjournments ' he had referred the matter to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court.

'I would like to avoid a confrontation between the judiciary and the legislature and that's why I have taken the decision,' Balmuchu said.

Earlier, he told the House: 'This is a constitutional question on which my opinion is that only an elected Speaker can conduct the vote of confidence in accordance with tradition and constitutional provisions.'

Balmuchu conceded that the Supreme Court's directives had made the situation hazy.

'Section 212 of the Constitution gives an upper hand to the legislature in its functioning. If set aside, it could cast a shadow on democratic and parliamentary democracy.'


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