After the Arrest of Three Congress MLAs, Is 'Operation Lotus' On in Jharkhand?
The MLAs were arrested from West Bengal with a lot of cash. The party is, however, calling it a conspiracy.
The arrest of three Jharkhand Congress MLAs in Howrah by the West Bengal police, on Saturday, 30 July, elicited political furore with Congress MP Jairam Ramesh dubbing it as 'the Bharatiya Janata Party's Operation Lotus.'
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said that although the BJP is trying to "destabilise his government," he wasn't afraid of the party.
While political outrage continues to pour in, we decode questions ranging from the possibility of a Maharashtra-like takeover in the state and the likelohood of the Soren-led government facing an existential crisis.
Is 'Operation Lotus' Failing?
The arrests opened the floodgates of allegations and counter-allegations as Congress MLA from Bermo Kumar Jaimangal Singh alias Anup Singh made a sensational claim that he was offered Rs 10 crore to dislodge the Soren government.
“I was being taken to Guwahati to meet BJP leader and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma,” he alleged.
MLA Anup Singh said in the FIR that three Congress MLAs – Irfan Ansari from Jamtara, Naman Bixal Kongari from Kolebira, and Rajesh Kachhap from Khijri – were also given the offer.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congress leader, said that he has many friends in the Congress and he is in touch with them but senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh made a scathing attack on the BJP saying, “Operation Lotus has been exposed in Jharkhand. The ‘Hum Do’ of Delhi is playing the same game in Jharkhand that they implemented in Maharashtra through the Eknath-Devendra duo.”
The allegation made by the three congress MLAs is important as they were among those who cross-voted along with six other MLAs in the presidential election in favour of the National Democratic Alliance candidate.
In another important development, the lawyer who filed a case against Soren regarding the mining irregularities, has been arrested.
Advocate Rajiv Kumar was arrested in Kolkata for blackmailing a Bengal-based businessman. A plea was also filed against IAS officer Pooja Singhal and later she was arrested with a huge cache of cash.
The Soren government in Jharkhand is under pressure while some continue to ask whether the volley of court cases and action by central agencies is part of dislodging the government.
Chronology of the Political Game in Jharkhand
While the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is leading the government, Congress is the second-largest party. In the Jharkhand Assembly, one needs to cross the magic mark of 41 to form the government. The JMM has a strength of 30 MLAs while with support of 18 from Congress and one from Rashtriya Janata Dal, they have a comfortable majority with 49 MLAs. Lone Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation MLA is supporting the government from outside.
On the other hand, the BJP has 26 MLAs in the Jharkhand Assembly while its alliance partner All Jharkhand Students Union has two MLAs. The BJP, thus, needs 13 MLAs to form the government in Jharkhand. The BJP is the largest opposition party in the state Assembly.
Interestingly in 2021, three people were arrested from a hotel in Ranchi in 2021 with Rs 2 lakh cash by the special cell of the Jharkhand police. The action was taken after a complaint by MLA Kumar Jaimangal Singh alias Anup Singh. He had written a letter to the police fearing horse-trading of the MLAs.
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