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Jharkhand's ruling UPA MLAs flown to Raipur 'safe haven', more may follow

As many 32 MLAs of the ruling UPA coalition in Jharkhand flew down to Raipur by a chartered flight from Ranchi in a bid to 'ring fence' them from possible poaching attempts


Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren with UPA MLAs leaves for Ranchi airport on way to Raipur amid speculation of his disqualification as an MLA, in Ranchi (Photo: PTI)

Press Trust of India Raipur/Ranchi
As many 32 MLAs of the ruling UPA coalition in Jharkhand on Tuesday flew down to Raipur by a chartered flight from Ranchi in a bid to 'ring fence' them from possible poaching attempts, and then bussed to a nearby resort amidst tight security.
A few more MLAs from JMM are expected to follow over the next few days to join the 17 Congress MLAs and 15 JMM legislators to the 'safe haven' at Mayfair Resort, some 10 kms from the capital of Chhattisgarh, according to UPA sources.
The United Progressive Alliance, comprising of the JMM, Congress and RJD in Jharkhand has 49 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly and is supported from outside by the lone CPIML (L) legislator.
The flight carrying the MLAs took off from the Ranchi airport shortly after 4.30 pm and arrived in Raipur, the capital of the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, around 5:30 pm.
A total of 41 persons, including 32 MLAs, landed at Swami Vivekananda Airport and three buses took them from the airport to the Mayfair resort in Nava Raipur, said a local Congress leader.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren who came to see off his colleagues remained behind to run his government.
Chhattisgarh Congress leaders Ramgopal Agrawal and Girish Dewangan also travelled to the resort with the Jharkhand MLAs. The buses were escorted by pilot vehicles.
Security has been tightened around the resort and media-persons were not allowed inside.
News channels showed a convoy of vehicles of VIPs and police entering the resort ahead of the arrival of the Jharkhand MLAs.
This is for the third time in the last one-and-a-half years that MLAs of Congress and its allies have been shifted to Raipur amid fears of poaching by the BJP.
In June, fearing cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha election, the main opposition Congress in Haryana had shifted its MLAs to Raipur to protect them from an alleged poaching bid.
Candidates of the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), a member of the Congress-led grand alliance during the last year's Assam Assembly polls, were similarly brought to Raipur in April 2021 ahead of counting of votes.
Jharkhand chief minister Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) believes that the BJP may make a serious attempt to poach MLAs from the party and also from the ally Congress in a bid to topple the government in a manner similar to Maharashtra and there is a need to ringfence the legislators in a safe haven.
Following a petition by the BJP seeking Soren's disqualification from the Assembly in an office of profit case, the Election Commission sent its decision to state Governor Ramesh Bais on August 25. Though the EC's decision has not yet been made official, Raj Bhavan sources claim the poll panel has recommended the chief minister's disqualification as an MLA.
In a joint statement on August 28, UPA constituents had accused the governor of encouraging political horse-trading by "deliberately delaying" announcing a decision on the recommendations.
A meeting of the Jharkhand cabinet is scheduled on September 1 at 4 pm.
The JMM, the largest party, has 30 MLAs, the Congress 18 legislators, and the RJD one. The main opposition BJP has 26 MLAs in the House.
Meanwhile, in another significant development, Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahto on Tuesday completed the hearing of a case pertaining to defection charges against senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi while reserving pronouncement of a judgment.
Sources indicated that Marandi may lose his membersip of the Jharkhand Assembly.
A complaint had been filed against Marandi in December 2020 after he merged his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) party with the saffron party in February that year in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah here and was unanimously elected the leader of BJP legislative party. Two other MLAs belonging to the JVM had not crossed over to the saffron party, though Marandi suspended them.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 30 2022 | 10:19 PM IST

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