Hemant Soren resigns, senior JMM leader Champai Soren's name proposed as new Jharkhand CM
Hemant Soren tendered his resignation to governor C.P. Radhakrishnan after about seven hours of questioning by the ED
Hemant Soren on Wednesday resigned as Jharkhand chief minister, with the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led coalition proposing the name of senior leader Champai Soren as the new head of government.
Soren tendered his resignation to governor C.P. Radhakrishnan at Raj Bhavan after about seven hours of questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering case linked to a land scam.
"Hemant Soren has resigned as the chief minister of Jharkhand. The ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has proposed the name of senior JMM leader Champai Soren as the new CM," state Congress president Rajesh Thakur said.
Earlier, the legislators gathered at the CM's residence in state capital Ranchi elected Champai Soren, who is currently the state's transport minister, as the leader of the JMM legislative party. Party spokesperson Vinod Pandey said a general consensus was reached on Champai Soren, though there was some speculation that Hemant Soren's wife Kalpana’s name could be proposed as the new CM.
The fast-paced developments came as the ED, which was questioning Hemant Soren at his residence since the afternoon in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam, informed him that it was arresting him as it was not satisfied with his answers to their queries.
Meanwhile, Jharkhand chief secretary L. Khiangte, DGP Ajay Kumar Singh, and other top officials reached the CM's residence and security there was tightened.
Indications of Heman Soren's likely arrest surfaced from around 5.00 pm, and the ruling coalition intensified its discussions to select his successor. Several MLAs were present at the CM's house since the morning.
A meeting of JMM legislators chaired by Hemant Soren on Tuesday evening following his return to the state capital from New Delhi, had decided that in the event of his arrest, a new government should be formed under a new leader, and an appointment was sought with the governor on Wednesday night.
Hemant Soren reached his Kanke Road residence at around 1.50 pm on Tuesday along with a security guard amid uncertainty about his location. The ED had been on the lookout for Soren in Delhi since Monday morning. They searched for him at several places including his Delhi residence and Jharkhand Bhavan, but claimed he was not to be found.
While official sources claimed Soren was "missing" and could not be contacted by the federal agency, a family member alleged that a "false" narrative was being set to "delegitimise" the JMM leader's position.
The member, seeking anonymity, claimed that there were repeated communications to the ED and compliance to the summons, including a willingness to record his statement on 31 January at 1.00 pm at his Ranchi residence.
The federal agency had questioned Hemant Soren in Ranchi on 20 January in the alleged land scam case, and had issued a fresh summons to him asking him to confirm his availability for questioning on either 29 or 31 January, sources said.
In an email to the agency on Monday, the 48-year-old JMM executive president alleged that the issuance of a summons to him was "wholly vexatious and in colourable exercise of powers given by the statute".