Soren’s arrest revives memories of father’s role in cash-for-votes, coal scams

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Ranchi, Feb 4 (IANS) Former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on money laundering charges has revived the memories of his father Shibu Soren whose name emerged in the 1993 cash-for-votes scandal and later in a coal scam case.

Four Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MPs, including party supremo Shibu Soren, were accused of taking bribes to save the Narasimha Rao government in 1993.

It was alleged that Shibu Soren and three of his party’s MPs – Shailendra Mahato, Simon Marandi and Suraj Mandal received kickbacks to ensure the survival of the then Rao-led Congress government during a no-confidence vote.

On July 28, 1993, BJP brought a no-confidence motion against Narasimha Rao and it was almost certain that the Congress government at the Centre would fall, but when voting took place in the Parliament, JMM MPs voted in Rao’s favour saving the Congress government.

In 1995, BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee made a sensational revelation. Vajpayee brought JMM MP Shailendra Mahato in front of the Parliament who admitted that his party MPs including Shibu Soren had taken a bribe of Rs 50 lakh each to save the Congress government in 1993.

Following the revelation, the CBI lodged a case and started an investigation.

The CBI in its charge sheet stated that the money was brought in suitcases in a Maruti Gypsy and was distributed among JMM MPs at a party held at the farmhouse of Congress leader Satish Sharma.

The Central probe agency further stated Congress leader Buta Singh had contacted four JMM MPs on July 26, 1993, to vote against the resolution brought against Rao. Singh also took the JMM MPs Rao’s official residence at 7 Race Course Road for a meeting.

However, the Supreme Court bench acquitted them, ruling that they had immunity for any acts committed inside the Parliament under Article 105(2) of the Constitution. In 2000, the court convicted only Rao and Buta Singh, but in 2002 they were also acquitted.

Similarly, when Shibu Soren was the Coal Minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre in 2006, he was accused of corruption in coal block allocation.

The CBI had interrogated Shibu Soren for a long time in connection with the investigation of the alleged coal scam. However, no case was registered against him.

Former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh in his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths, published in 2014, claimed that many MPs from various parties, including the then Coal Minister Shibu Soren and MoS Dasari Narayana Rao, did not allow the reform measures in the Coal Ministry to be implemented. “If reform steps had been taken in time, the coal block allocation scam could have been prevented.”

According to Parakh, when the UPA government was formed in 2004 and Shibu Soren was made the Coal Minister, he told Soren that “there is a serious shortage of coal in the country and there is a need to increase coal supply without wasting any time. But Soren’s priority was only speedy allocation of coal blocks and transfer of officers”.

–IANS

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