Outgoing Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais on Wednesday said he did not act on the Election Commission's recommendation on Chief Minister Hemant Soren in the office of profit case as he did not want to disrupt development in the state.
Soren is embroiled in an office of profit case that carries the risk of him losing his membership of Jharkhand assembly. Last year, the issue had escalated into a full-blown crisis and Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led coalition parked its MLAs in neighbouring Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh's Ranchi to prevent any attempts at poaching to topple the government.
However, the issue slowly faded into background as Bais took no action and no actual threat came on either Soren's status as an MLA or his government.
As he is to replaced by CP Radhakrishnan, Bais also said "lack of vision" stunted Jharkhand's growth despite Soren being a good leader.
On the office of profit case, he said, "I did not take any further step on the Election Commission letter...I saw that governments in Jharkhand were not stable and I did not want to obstruct development."
Bais said he had earlier decided to take a decision at an appropriate time, and the ball is now in the court of his successor.
What's the Hemant Soren office or profit case?
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren faces potential disqualification from the Jharkhand assembly in an office of profit case filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against him.
It's alleged that Soren procured stone mining leases in his name while being the chief minister and holding the mines portfolio. The BJP sought his disqualification under provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
The issue was referred to Governor Ramesh Bais and by him to the Election Commission (EC) for its opinion on the case. The Article 192 of the Constitution of India dictates that, in such cases, the Governor has to act as per the EC’s opinion. The EC has conveyed its opinion and while Bais has not made it public, it has been reported earlier that EC has recommended that Soren be disqualified.
The EC had sent its opinion to Bais on the office-of-profit row involving Soren on August 25 after conducting a hearing on a reference from Bais.
A high-voltage drama ensued, followed by the Soren government in September winning a confidence vote in the assembly by a comfortable margin amid apprehensions that the ruling MLAs of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress would be poached to bring down the JMM-led regime.
What else did Ramesh Bais say?
Asked about allegations by the JMM-led coalition that the Centre was using the governor as a tool to destabilise the democratically elected government in Jharkhand, Bais said on attaining a position like the governor, a person becomes “unbaised” and acts as per the Constitution.
Bais said he was guided by the Constitution and “development of the state” was his sole motive, while mockingly saying that “uncertainty made them work hard in the last one-and-a-half years”.
He said the pace of development in Jharkhand, which has the potential to be one of the leading states given its resources, was “very slow” and that law and order has “taken a backseat”.
"I was particularly concerned at the poor law and order in the state. If shopkeepers don't feel safe inside their shops, if people don't feel safe inside their homes, it indeed is a matter of concern. I asked officials to take steps in this regard. There should be fear of law among wrongdoers," he said.
Bais said the image of the state has taken a hit and any investor coming to set up industry here would definitely want his family and unit to be safe.
"I want the state government to take constructive approaches and make all possible efforts for development," he said.
On the 1932 Khatiyan Bill, he said a thought was needed why did the current assembly pass the bill when earlier it was rejected by the assembly as well as the high court.
Bais had in January sent back the bill to the government for reconsideration, describing it to be violative of Article 16 of the Constitution and court rulings.
Earlier, he had sought a reply from the government as to why the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) was constituted without consulting the Raj Bhavan and termed it an encroachment into his rights and powers enshrined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
"I have not received any explanation from the government on TAC to date," he said.
He claimed that the government had failed to utilise its budget and barely 45 per cent has been spent.
(With PTI inputs)