Jharkhand's 'tainted' lawmakers back in spotlight

Ranchi, July 6 (IANS) The proposed new government in Jharkhand led by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) may bring to the centrestage lawmakers who are allegedly on the wrong side of the law.

Some of the legislators who may play a key role in the government formation are facing corruption charges, serving jail term in murder cases, are out on bail in graft cases or have allegedly been evading arrest.

Two JMM legislators, Sita Soren and Nalin Soren, are allegedly facing arrest warrants.

Sita Soren, daughter-in-law of JMM chief Shibu Soren, is accused of having allegedly received a bribe of Rs.1.5 crore for casting her vote in favour of a candidate in the scrapped 2012 elections to the Rajya Sabha.

Nalin Soren, a former agriculture minister, is one of nine accused in the seeds scam case of 2007, in which irregularities were allegedly found in supply of seeds to farmers.

Party general secretary Suprio Bhattacharya, however, denied that the two legislators' were facing arrest warrants.

No arrest warrants were pending against either of them, Bhattacharya told reporters Saturday in Ranchi.

Apart from JMM legislators, some assembly members of the Congress also have criminal backgrounds.

Sawna Lakra, a Congress legislator convicted by a Ranchi court last month for the murder of a young man, is currently serving a sentence in jail.

Some independent legislators or assembly members from smaller parties who are likely to support the new government have also been allegedly involved in criminal cases.

Independents Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai, both former ministers, spent three years in jail in connection with graft cases. Both were released on bail early this year.

Jharkhand Vikas Mocha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) has alleged that the new government was taking shape on the basis of "money power".

"What can you expect from this government? Twenty three legislators who will support it are on the radar of the CBI in the 2010 and 2012 Rajya Sabha note-for-vote cases," JVM-P leader Pradeep Yadav told IANS.

"The new government will be part two of the Madhu Koda regime. The Congress will play its politics, and get its work done by putting forward Hemant Soren as chief minister," he said.

Koda, an independent legislator, became chief minister in 2006 by toppling the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Arjun Munda government.

Koda was supported by the Congress, the JMM, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and independent legislators.

He has been in jail for three-and-a-half years in connection with different cases of graft and money-laundering.

The BJP too has termed the new government as "joke on the people of Jharkhand".

"This is a joke on the people of Jharkhand. This government will, in no way, work for the people. The new government is formed in the interest of the JMM and the Congress and others who will become part of it," Pradeep Sinha, BJP spokesperson, told IANS.

Jharkhand came under president's rule Jan 18 whose six-month period ends July 18.

JMM leaders claim the support of 42 legislators in the 82-member state assembly.

The JMM, Congress and RJD have 18, 13 and five legislators respectively. The JMM says it will also get the backing of seven legislators who are either independent or belong to smaller parties.

Four independent legislators have extended their support to the JMM, said one of them, Bandhu Tikey.

On Thursday, the Congress extended its support to the JMM to form the new government that may take shape by next week.

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