Sita Soren being wheeled back to her cottage at RIMS in Ranchi after a check-up on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
Ranchi, Feb. 27: Jama’s sitting MLA and Shibu Soren’s bahu Sita Soren, accused of accepting a Rs 1.5 crore bribe for her vote in 2012 Rajya Sabha elections, is under “hospital arrest” at the air-conditioned VIP cottage No. 14 of RIMS, Ranchi, two days after her surrender at CBI court.
A day after the CBI court showcaused jail authorities to explain in 72 hours why its consent wasn’t taken before sending Sita, who complained of chest pain, to RIMS on February 25 evening, it seems politicians of all hues have woken up to the fact that chief minister Hemant Soren’s bhabhi didn’t stay for even a day at Birsa jail in judicial custody.
While the Opposition has gone hammer and tongs, the JMM and Soren loyalists have changed their oft-repeated kanoon apna kaam karega to doctor apna kaam karega.
“Doctor apna kaam karega (doctors will do their job),” said JMM MLA Mathura Mahto. The exasperated leader added: “How can someone claim she is not ill? Doctors are treating her. Why so much fuss?”
On the other end of the spectrum, the BJP dripped sarcasm. “The state has introduced a wrong culture of royal treatment to politicians involved in corruption or criminal cases. This is why Jharkhand is infamous for producing corrupt politicians. Sita Soren belongs to an influential political family and the government is protecting her,” said BJP MP Nishikant Dubey of Godda.
In a rare case when the Left marched with Right, CPI (ML) MLA Vinod Singh said: “In the name of serving the public, politicians here create such a lavish style for themselves that mere thought of jail terrorises them though they get VIP treatment and best food there.”
The JVM, though measured, was also forthright.
“Medical care is the undeniable right of every undertrial and convict. It may be that she developed (chest pain) symptoms due to fear. But I feel she got preferential treatment because within hours of arrest she was referred to RIMS. The court has taken its cognisance. My party demands a board of military doctors to conduct her medical exam to ascertain if she is ill,” JVM MLA Pradeep Yadav said.
JMM allies Congress and RJD relied on innuendo and high moral ground.
“Giraftari ke baad netaon ka beemar ho jana swabhavik hai. Kabhi kabhi to sachmuch me bimar ho jate hain lekin musibat hai ki koi yakin nahin karta hai (Falling ill after arrest is normal for leaders. Sometimes they really fall ill but the problem is no one believes them),” state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat said.
Bhagat denied his party was under pressure from the JMM to secure her relief. “Our coalition arrangements with the JMM won’t be affected by such arrests,” he said.
State RJD chief Girinath Singh sugar-coated his barbs with philosophy. “Earlier, leaders felt proud to go to jail for public causes. Now, personal greed and dishonesty have replaced public cause,” he said.
Singh did not mention his party chief Lalu Prasad was healthy during his Birsa jail tenure and did not go to RIMS, possibly because the fodder scam couldn’t be termed an instance of public cause.
The man of the hour, RIMS doctor Hemant Narayan, who is treating Sita, didn’t reveal much. “As a doctor, I must protect my patient’s confidentiality,” he said. Pressed for details, he said “her treadmill test shows slight abnormality”.
RIMS sources added her BP was normal. Chest pain apart, Sita complained of aches in her arms and back and will be referred to RIMS orthopaedic department also.
The CBI, planning to seek her on remand for interrogation, is not convinced. “She was fine when she played a cat-and-mouse game with us. Now she is ill,” a CBI official said.