Champai Soren will take the oath of office as Chief Minister of Jharkhand today, and in ten days, the floor test: Principal points

The plea lodged by Hemant Soren against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a land scandal is scheduled for consideration today at the Supreme Court. A distinguished three-judge panel led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, accompanied by Justices Sanjiv Khanna, MM Sundresh, and Bela M Trivedi, is poised to address the matter at 10:30 am.

Hemant Soren, apprehended by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, underwent a day of judicial custody after appearing before a specialized PMLA court in Ranchi on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) veteran Champai Soren, designated as the successor by Hemant Soren, is set to assume the role of Chief Minister today, between 12 pm and 2 pm, as per sources. Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan appointed him as the Chief Minister designate on Thursday and has mandated Champai Soren to demonstrate his majority within 10 days.

Key Developments in this significant narrative include: The specially constituted three-judge bench to adjudicate Hemant Soren’s case today was established by CJI Chandrachud, as per the updated causelist of the Supreme Court. The former Jharkhand Chief Minister is seeking the annulment of summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate, denouncing it as “unlawful and encroaching upon his fundamental rights.”

Initially approaching the Jharkhand High Court, Hemant Soren, represented by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, later informed the CJI-led bench of the withdrawal of the plea from the High Court. On Thursday, both advocates presented Hemant Soren’s plea as an urgent listing before the Supreme Court.

Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan nominated Champai Soren as the JMM legislative party leader on Thursday, extending an invitation for him to take the oath. This decision followed concerns raised by various leaders, including Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, regarding the delay in the oath-taking process. Champai Soren had asserted his claim to form the government, urging the Governor to expedite the process amidst “confusion” and a deepening political crisis in the state.

In his plea, Hemant Soren contends that he approached the top court due to a blatant abuse of law by the Centre and the misuse of central agencies to harass him. He alleges that these actions are aimed at destabilizing the democratically elected Jharkhand government. Further, he claims that the central agency is acting at the behest of the BJP-led Centre to further its “political ambitions” in the state and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Before Champai Soren met with the Jharkhand Governor on Thursday, the ruling coalition of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Congress, and Rashtriya Lok Dal released a video statement featuring the support of 43 Opposition MLAs for the Chief Minister designate. Subsequently, Champai Soren, accompanied by Congress legislative party leader Alamgir Alam, RJD MLA Satyanand Bhokta, CPI (ML) L legislator Vinod Singh, and lawmaker Pradeep Yadav, met with Governor CP Radhakrishnan.

In an effort to safeguard ruling coalition MLAs from potential poaching attempts by the BJP, the majority alliance in Jharkhand planned to relocate their MLAs to Hyderabad on Thursday. Although two chartered planes were intended to transport 39 coalition MLAs, including Hemant Soren’s brother MLA Basant Soren, to Hyderabad, the flight was grounded due to adverse weather conditions and low visibility.

Before Jharkhand Governor appointed Champai Soren as Chief Minister designate, the latter affirmed that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha alliance is “quite robust” and impervious to disruption. Asserting that they currently have the support of 43 MLAs, Champai Soren predicted that the number would “comfortably” reach 46 or 47. He emphasized the strength of their alliance, stating, “Our gathbandhan is very formidable.”

Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav criticized the BJP on Thursday for the arrest of Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate, denouncing it as a “dictatorial” move by the Centre. His statement, roughly translated from Hindi, conveyed, “The fear of BJP is well known, and the public has also understood this now. We are strongly with Hemant.”

The Enforcement Directorate had sought seven to eight days of custody for Hemant Soren from the PMLA court, citing his non-cooperation during the investigation, evasive attitude regarding the allegations, and substantial material evidence warranting custodial interrogation. Ultimately, Hemant Soren was granted one-day judicial custody.

On Thursday, the BJP criticized the supporters of Hemant Soren, dismissing their accusations against the Centre for harassing the tribal leader. Senior leader and former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted that the ex-Jharkhand Chief Minister was arrested for his involvement in “corruption and loot” in the state, adding that the Narendra Modi government is deeply concerned about the tribal society.

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