Pressure applied through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) forced the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to sever its ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Jharkhand, leading to the fall of the Arjun Munda government. Sources say that JMM chief Shibu Soren was curtly “reminded” by the Congress that he was the coal minister before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took charge of the ministry in 2006, meaning that the CBI would start investigating the allocation of mines during his tenure. Soren, who is already mired in several controversies, could not risk another CBI investigation to hound him.
A senior BJP leader said that the Congress wanted the JMM to “divorce” the BJP so that it could revive its alliance with the party for the 2014 general elections. The state has 14 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress contested the last general elections in alliance with Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), with which it parted ways. Thus the Congress desperately needs a regional partner in that state. At present it has only one MP, Subodh Kant Sahai, from Jharkhand.
The JMM is already under the CBI scanner in the horse trading case relating to last year’s Rajya Sabha elections. As part of the probe, the police has lodged an FIR under Section 363 against Soren’s daughter-in-law Sita Soren for allegedly kidnapping her former PA Vikas Pandey, who has become an approver in the case. As many as 15 MLAs, many of them from the JMM, are under the scanner of the CBI, which has already raided their houses.
Soren is also involved in the Shashinath Jha murder case, which is pending in the Supreme Court and in which the CBI is a party. Soren’s former PA Manohar Lal Paul is under the scanner of the Income Tax department in connection with a disproportionate assets case. His residence has already been raided by IT officials.