NEW DELHI: Amid a looming political crisis in Jharkhand, the ruling JMM-Congress government on Saturday started preparations to shift their MLAs to "friendly states" like West Bengal or Chhattisgarh to avoid poaching attempts by the BJP.
The crisis was triggered by the uncertainty over chief minister Hemant Soren's political fate in the state after the Election Commission recommended his disqualification as an MLA in an illegal mining case. Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bais is likely to take a call on the EC's recommendation soon.
If the governor agrees with the EC's opinion of disqualification, Soren will have to step down as the chief minister.
Meanwhile, several Jharkhand MLAs were seen visiting the CM's residence with packed bags in their vehicles, suggesting that they may be moved to "safer" states.
A marathon third round of a meeting of legislators of the ruling alliance is also underway at Soren's residence to chalk out a strategy to deal with the emerging scenario.
With the ruling coalition corralling its MLAs, "resort politics" has come into play in yet another state as parties take desperate measures to keep their numbers intact.
A Congress source said that preparations have been made to shift MLAs to a non-BJP state.
"All arrangements to park our coalition legislators in either Chhattisgarh or West Bengal, both run by non-BJP governments, have been made. Three luxury buses have reached Ranchi to transport the MLAs and security personnel by road. There will also be some escort vehicles," the source told news agency PTI.
The source said three locations in Chhattisgarh, including Barmuda and Raipur, and some places in West Bengal have been identified.
"All ruling MLAs will be sent to a single destination if the need arises. All the MLAs have come with their luggage to the CM's house to attend the crucial meeting which is under way," another source said.
A JMM source said the option to take the legislators out of Jharkhand was open and all preparations have been made but the final decision will be taken only after the disqualification order is dispatched by the governor.
Meanwhile, BJP's Godda MP Nishikant Dubey, known for his controversial remarks, tweeted: "According to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha sources, some MLAs reached Chhattisgarh at 2 am. Most of the MLAs are reluctant to go and are waiting for the orders of senior JMM leader Basant Soren. Some buses are parked in Ranchi for MLAs."
The ECI sent its opinion to Bais on August 25 on a plea seeking that Soren be disqualified as an MLA for violating electoral norms by extending a mining lease to himself.
Raj Bhavan sources said the governor may take a call by evening on the ECI views on "disqualification" of the chief minister as an MLA and send the disqualification order to the commission.
The BJP, the petitioner in the case, has sought Soren's disqualification for violating Section 9 (A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with disqualification for government contracts.
(With inputs from agencies)
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