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Soren Sorted, Kejriwal in a Pickle: Sunita as CM or Jailhouse Governance?

Jharkhand's Soren secures succession plans while Delhi's Kejriwal faces a tough choice: Will it be Sunita as CM or a unique governance stint from behind bars? The political stage is set for intrigue and unexpected turns.

Soren Sorted, Kejriwal in a Pickle: Sunita as CM or Jailhouse Governance?

Ranchi: Jharkhand's Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, is on the verge of facing an arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his alleged involvement in a Ranchi land scam. In anticipation of this, Soren is taking proactive measures to position his wife, Kalpana, as his potential successor in the role of Chief Minister. As part of this strategic move, Soren orchestrated the resignation of Sarfaraz Ahmed, a legislator from his party, from the Gandey Assembly seat. The swift acceptance of Ahmed's resignation by the Assembly Speaker, Rabindranath Mahto, followed a meeting between Soren and Mahto.

 

Speculation is rife that Kalpana Soren may throw her hat into the ring for the upcoming by-elections in the Gandey constituency. Despite repeated notices from the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Hemant Soren has chosen to disregard them. Legal avenues to quash these notices have proven futile, with both the Supreme Court and the High Court rejecting Soren's pleas. As the ED contemplates its course of action, discussions are underway regarding the possibility of seeking judicial approval for Soren's imminent arrest.

 

In the event of Hemant Soren's arrest, Kalpana Soren is expected to be sworn in as the Chief Minister, subsequently contesting the by-elections for the vacant Gandey seat. The orchestrated moves reportedly have the endorsement of Shibu Soren, the JMM patriarch and Hemant's father. The resignation of Sarfaraz Ahmed, the MLA, comes with promises of rewards for his perceived sacrifice, as he is expected to throw his support behind Kalpana Soren's election bid. Despite Hemant Soren's belief that his arrest could elevate his status to that of a 'martyr,' critics, including a BJP Lok Sabha MP, dismiss this as an unlikely and unsuccessful strategy. The MP accuses Soren of corruption and betraying the interests of tribal communities and the public. Strong evidence against Soren in the land scam case, as affirmed by ED officers, is anticipated to withstand judicial scrutiny.

 

On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had previously ignored three summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), conducted a press conference on Thursday, January 4, denouncing the summons as 'illegal.' The ED had called Kejriwal in connection with its investigation into the alleged liquor excise policy scam. During the press conference, Chief Minister Kejriwal commented on the matter, stating, "For the past two years in the liquor scam case, the BJP has conducted numerous raids and arrests, but they haven't uncovered a single penny of corruption money."

 

Presently, Soren has nearly finalized his plan in case of his potential arrest. However, what about Arvind Kejriwal? He is unlikely to permit any other leader to assume the role of Chief Minister if they don't align with his directives. It has been rumored that during the Punjab Assembly elections, when Kejriwal campaigned and the AAP emerged victorious, he initially desired to be the Chief Minister of Punjab himself. He intended for his confidante, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, to take over as the Chief Minister of Delhi. However, Kejriwal recognized the public sentiment in Punjab, where the people favored Bhagwant Mann as CM. To avoid public discontent, Kejriwal relinquished the Punjab CM position and appointed Mann instead. Kejriwal would have faced imprisonment after passing on his Chief Ministerial responsibilities to Manish Sisodia. However, Kejriwal's alter ego, Manish, is now in jail facing allegations related to the same excise scam that has Kejriwal concerned about potential arrest by the ED.

 

Similar to Sarfaraz Ahmed's resignation paving the way for Soren's wife to contest elections within six months of assuming the Chief Minister post in case of Heman Soren's arrest, Kejriwal may also have to devise an alternative plan to have his wife, Sunita Kejriwal, become the Chief Minister of Delhi if he faces arrest. Otherwise; Kejriwal has initiated a campaign, titled "Mai Bhi Kejriwal," seeking public opinion on whether he should resign in the event of his potential arrest. The AAP asserts that the campaign reached approximately 24 lakh households in the last month, with people expressing the view that Kejriwal should not resign. This suggests that Kejriwal might intend to continue governing from jail based on the results of this survey.


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