Assam CM, central ministers lure Jharkhand MPs with cash, Congress alleges

The BJP is using money and muscle power to overthrow the JMM-Congress alliance, alleged Avinash Pande, the Congress General Secretary in charge of Jharkhand. BJP’s new target is Jharkhand, he added

The current political crisis in Jharkhand, caused by the BJP, also comes at a time when the JMM and Congress are finding it increasingly difficult to work together within the ruling alliance.

The Congress party on Sunday July 31 alleged that Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, some central ministers and ministers and officials of the Union Ministry of Justice were all working in tandem to destabilize the government JMM-Congress coalition in Jharkhand.

The Grand Old Party’s allegations follow the interception of three of its Jharkhand legislators by Bengal police late Saturday night in Howrah, with a huge sum of cash hidden in their vehicle. Acting Congress President Sonia Gandhi has suspended the three MPs – Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Bixal Kongari – from senior members of Congress with immediate effect.

Shortly after Bengal police intercepted the vehicle carrying the three MPs at the Panchla-Ranihati intersection in Howrah and arrested the lawmakers, the head of the Congressional Communications Department, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted: “The operation BJP’s Lotus in Jharkhand is on display tonight in Howrah. The game plan of ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing ED duo”.

The ‘Hum Do’ mentioned by Ramesh in the tweet was a thinly veiled reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Secretary Amit Shah, whom Congress has repeatedly accused of conspiring to overthrow state governments led by rival BJP parties. Similarly, the “ED” mentioned by the Congress General Secretary was a dig at Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and his deputy, Devendra Fadnavis, who brought the rebel Shiv Sena faction and the BJP back to power last month after toppling the Uddhav Thackeray’s ruling MVA coalition led the Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar’s CPN and the Congress party.

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On Sunday, Avinash Pande, the Congress General Secretary in charge of Jharkhand, told reporters in New Delhi that the BJP was trying to destabilize the Hemant Soren-led government in the eastern state by offering huge sums of money members of the ruling coalition. or threatening them with central agency investigations had been ongoing for several months.

Read also : 3 suspended Jharkhand Congress MPs arrested after stealing money from Howrah

In conversation with The Federal, Pande said, “Also a few months ago senior BJP leaders approached our MPs with offers…we filed an FIR against which the investigation is still ongoing. But, the BJP has relentlessly pursued its agenda of democracy assassination using money and muscle power in its attempt to overthrow any non-BJP led government across the country…”

“We saw it recently in Maharashtra and in the failed attempt in Goa, where despite winning the elections, the BJP still wanted to smash our legislative party by engineering defections…they came to power using the same tactic in the passed in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and several other states as well and now Jharkhand is their new target,” Pande added.

Pande alleged that the Assam CM, “which had played a key role in the BJP’s plan to overthrow the MVA government in Maharashtra and had hosted rebel Shiv Sena MPs in a hotel in Guwahati for weeks”, was now in “direct contact with our deputies”. in Jharkhand.

“Central Ministers are contacting our MPs with offers of money and Ministers and legal department officials are threatening our MPs with ED and CBI investigations against them… the President of Congress has suspended the three MPs, who have been caught with money. Howrah money from party members and a stern warning of similar action has been given to all MPs from other parties in Jharkhand who may be in contact with the BJP or these three MPs,” Pande said.

The party’s Jharkhand official claimed that Ansari, Kachhap and Kongari were also ‘used by the BJP’ to approach other Congress MPs in the state with offers of money to move to the saffron side . Kumar Jaimangal, the Congress MP for Bermo, filed a fresh complaint against police in Ranchi on Sunday, alleging that the three MPs approached him with an offer of ₹10 crore to defect to the BJP.

Read also : Congress suspends 3 Jharkhand MPs caught with unaccounted money

Jaimangal alleged that three MPs wanted him to join them in Calcutta and also meet Sarma in Guwahati to further discuss the BJP’s plan to overthrow the Soren-led Jharkhand government. Interestingly, in July last year, Kongari, a first term MP from Kolebira constituency of Jharkhand, who comes from a poor tribal family, claimed that he had been approached by the BJP with an offer of ₹1 crore to help overthrow the party led by Soren. government.

Jharkhand police had also arrested three people – NP Mahato, Amit Singh and Abhishek Dubey – with alleged links to the BJP for offering money to Kongari and Jaimangal for inciting them to overthrow the JMM-Congress government.

Predictably, the BJP denied the Congress allegations and claimed it had “nothing to do” with the money found in the vehicle Ansari, Kachhap and Kongari were traveling in.

Whether the BJP has its sights set on toppling the Soren-led ruling coalition in the tribal-dominated state has been the subject of speculation for some time now. The Federal had first reported in April and then again earlier this month that the Saffron Party was in contact with several congressional deputies from the eastern state, while parallel negotiations were also underway between the BJP and Hemant Soren to convince the latter to break his alliance with Congress and form a new government in partnership with the saffron party.

Congress sources say his MPs in Jharkhand have been repeatedly approached by BJP leaders with defection offers. What appears to have prevented the mass defection from the Grand Old Party, sources say, are factional differences among the 16-member bloc of Jharkhand’s Congress legislators.

A senior Congress leader from Jharkhand said The Federal that the BJP has only 25 MPs in Jharkhand while the majority in the state assembly is 41.

“To come to power, it would either take more than two-thirds of our MPs defecting or they would have to get a significant number of MPs from Congress and JMM… it may sound ironic, but what seems to have saved us so far now is that the Jharkhand Congress, like in any other state, is a hugely divided house…”

Read also : After Maharashtra, will it be Soren’s Jharkhand?

“Unlike MP, where (Jyotiraditya) Scindia might walk away with more than 20 MPs in BJP, we only have 16 MPs in Jharkhand and no party leader gets the blind loyalty of more than 5 or 6 MPs; thus, a faction led by Furqan Ansari (father of Irfan Ansari) will not want to be on the same side as MPs loyal to (party leader) Alamgir Alam or those loyal to Rameshwar Oraon will not stand alongside MPs loyal to Subodh Kant Sahai. For the BJP to stage a mass defection, it will either have to urge all faction leaders to onboard their supporters or individually approach Congress and JMM MPs to defect,” he explained.

The current political crisis in Jharkhand also comes at a time when JMM and Congress are finding it increasingly difficult to work together in the ruling alliance, even as CM Hemant Soren has been beleaguered by challenges to his own political career due to allegations. , currently under investigation by the Electoral Commission or subject to PIL pending the judgment of the Ranchi High Court.

Congressional lawmakers have repeatedly criticized Soren for his bossiness and claimed the CM is deliberately trying to expand his JMM into traditional congressional strongholds in the state. A few months ago, things got to such a point that Pande advised congressmen to cut off all communication with Soren.

Relations between the two parties had only begun to normalize last month, when Soren’s decision to break ranks with Congress and other opposition parties in the presidential elections and vote for the NDA candidate , Draupadi Murmu, again widened the trust deficit between the allies.

There have also been rumors, as reported The Federal earlier this month, that the BJP is trying to convince Soren to break the JMM’s alliance with Congress. The Jharkhand CM faces an immediate threat to his presidency and continued tenure as a lawmaker since the Election Commission is investigating a complaint against him for awarding himself a mining lease in the state in flagrant violation of the provisions of the law. PR.

If the allegations against Soren are proven by the EC, Soren could be disbarred as an MP and thereby also lose his Chief Ministerial Presidency. Two PILs on allegations of corruption committed by the CM are also awaiting trial in the High Court in Ranchi, while several of his close aides are being investigated for corruption by central agencies.

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