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Soren leaves JMM in tizzy - Hemant, Sita in Guruji seat tussle

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SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA Published 29.03.10, 12:00 AM

Ranchi, March 28: Shibu Soren announced today that he would contest Assembly elections from Dumka amid reports of an intense power struggle within his family, especially son Hemant Soren and daughter-in-law Sita Soren, over vacating their seats for him.

Soren, who has to be elected member of the Assembly by June 30, told reporters at Nemra in Ramgarh that he would contest from Dumka, now being held by son Hemant.

Alongside his announcement, coming in the face of severe criticism from the Opposition who accused him of mocking democratic norms by choosing to delay his election, serious efforts were on to persuade Sita Soren, widow of Soren’s elder son Durga, to vacate her Jama seat for Guruji.

While Soren is understood to have entrusted a secretary rank IAS officer, tipped to be the next principal secretary to the chief minister, to persuade Sita to vacate her seat, Hemant is himself working on her uncle to convince her about the need to quit Jama.

According to sources, Sita felt uncomfortable with the Hemant-engineered persuasion, and had even lodged an informal complaint with the police against him for allegedly intimidating her uncle.

While Hemant could not be reached, Sita said: “Nothing has been decided and I won’t say anything more,” indicating she was still sticking to her guns. According to a late night report, they went into a huddle along with Soren late in the evening.

Jama offers two advantages for Soren. First, it’s a safe seat for the JMM boss to contest while in Dumka he will face a tough contest in the form of Congress’s former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi who has vowed to take him on if he freezes on Dumka.

Tamar, too, doesn’t seems to be an option for the chief minister as Babulal Marandi will not leave any stone unturned to ensure his defeat from there for the second time.

The second, more crucial factor in favour of Jama, is that it leaves Hemant undisturbed at Dumka — a seat Soren’s son and JMM legislature party leader is unwilling to let go given his own chief ministerial ambitions.

JVM MLA Pradeep Kumar Yadav, who had raised the issue of Soren’s House membership in the Assembly, criticised his dithering. “The last time he tried to be elected to the House from Tamar but the electorate rejected him,” he told The Telegraph.

“Still, he continues to be the chief minister and it is undemocratic and a joke on the Constitution,” he added.

Article 164 (IV) of the Constitution allows a non-member to continue as chief minister for six months.

In the the S.R. Chaudhary vs State of Punjab case, the apex court said: “Article 164 (4() is not an enabling provision. It is in the nature of disqualification/restriction for a non member to continue in the office. It would be subverting the Constitution to permit an individual, who is not a member of the legislature, to be appointed a minister repeatedly for a term of ‘six consecutive months’, without him getting himself elected in the meanwhile. The practice would be clearly derogatory to the constitutional scheme, improper, undemocratic and invalid. Article 164 (4) is at best only in the nature of exception.”

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