Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has been taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged land scam, minutes after resigning from his post.
State transport minister Champai Soren, a veteran leader of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), will replace him as the new chief minister.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been enforced in Ranchi, and a dedicated team is monitoring law and order with 7,000 police personnel deployed.
Hemant Soren on Wednesday went to the Raj Bhavan to tender his resignation to the Governor, while members of the ruling coalition were reaching there to stake a claim for a new government to be headed by senior JMM leader Champai Soren.
The fast-paced developments came as the ED, which was questioning Hemant Soren at his residence since the afternoon in a money laundering case probe linked to an alleged land scam, informed him that it was arresting him as it was not satisfied with his answers to their queries.
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary L. Khiangte, DGP Ajay Kumar Singh, and other top officials reached the CM’s residence and security there was tightened.
Indications of Heman Soren’s likely arrest came to be known from around 5 p.m. and the ruling coalition intensified its discussions to select his successor. Several MLAs were present at the CM’s house since morning.
A meeting on Tuesday evening of the JMM legislators, chaired by Hemant Soren, who returned to the state capital from New Delhi, had decided that in the event he was arrested, a new government should be formed under a new leader and an appointment was taken with the Governor on Wednesday night for this purpose.
Hemant Soren reached his Kanke Road residence at around 1:50 p.m on Tuesday along with a security guard amid uncertainty about his location.
The ED had been on the lookout for Soren in Delhi since Monday morning. They searched for him at several places including his Delhi residence and Jharkhand Bhawan, but he was not found.
Who is Champai Soren
Champai Soren played a crucial role in the movement for the creation of a separate state of Jharkhand.
Soren has been a legislator from Serikela assembly constituency for more than three decades since 1991 and is known to be a loyalist of JMM supremo Shibu Soren.
Born in November 1956 at Jilinggora village in Jharkhand’s Seraikela-Kharsawan district, Soren is a matriculate and father of seven children. He is the son of a farmer and is not related to the Hemant Soren family.
(With inputs from agencies)