Deja vu over trust vote - the Shibu Soren factor

July 18th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Charges and counter charges of inducements and bribery in the run-up to the trust vote in parliament Tuesday bring to mind the 1993 trust vote that another Congress government won - with the help of Shibu Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). The no-confidence vote against then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government was supported both by left-wing parties and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in an alliance of usually bitter enemies. Now again, the Manmohan trust vote is opposed jointly by the left as well as the BJP.

Rao won through “persuading” small opposition parties to abstain, or indeed absent themselves from parliament during the vote - the same strategy is being proposed this time around by the political managers of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.

Fifteen years ago, four JMM MPs helped Rao survive the no-trust motion. Its five MPs are now set to play a crucial role in saving the Manmohan Singh government.

It was alleged then that Rao, through a representative, offered millions of rupees to JMM members to vote for him during the no-trust motion.

The ruling UPA, yet again, looks intent on securing the support of the five JMM MPs in the Lok Sabha. JMM chief Shibu Soren was one of the four accused in the Rao bribery scandal.

On Nov 28, 2006, Soren was found guilty of murder in a 12-year-old case of the kidnapping and murder of his former personal secretary Shashinath Jha. The Central Bureau of Investigation charge sheet stated that Jha’s knowledge of the reported deal between the Congress and the JMM to save the then Narasimha Rao government during the July 1993 no-confidence motion was the motive behind the murder.

The charge sheet asserted: “Jha was aware of the illegal transactions and also expected and demanded a substantial share out of this amount from Soren.”

Soren had to resign from his post of coal minister after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanded that he do so in the wake of the verdict. This was the first case of a central minister being found guilty of involvement in a murder. On Dec 5, 2006, Soren was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Soren spent some time in jail, but he was acquitted Aug 22, 2007 by Delhi High Court when he appealed against his life term.

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