Several jailed and tainted ex ministers in Jharkhand poll fray

Ranchi, Nov 15 ( The 2009 Jharkhand assembly poll will be different from the previous elections. It has former chief minister Madhu Koda, who is at the centre of a Rs.2,500 crore money laundering scam, campaigning hard for his supporters, while six of his tainted ex-cabinet colleagues are also in the fray.

Koda, who ruled the state for nearly two years, gave the slip to Income Tax (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials Friday and went to his home town Chaibasa, which falls under his Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituency, to campaign for his supporters.

Koda’s supporters have floated the Jharkhand Navnirman Morcha (JNM) and announced the names of nominees for five assembly seats. His wife, Geeta Koda, will fight the election from the Jaggarnathpur assembly constituency.

Koda is moving around in his constituency to boost the morale of his supporters, who are upbeat after Koda dared investigators to prove the charges against him.

The six other tainted ex-cabinet colleagues of Koda in the poll fray are: Enos Ekka, Harinarayan Rai, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Kamlesh Singh, Nalin Soren and Bandhu Tirkey.

The Jharkhand vigilance department has lodged cases against the six who were in Koda’s cabinet. They are facing graft charges.

Two of them, Ekka and Rai, are in jail since Aug 17 and their bail petitions have been rejected by the Jharkhand High Court. Rai has filed his nomination from Jarmundi assembly seat. Both have sought interim bail for campaigning from the high court. Ekka will fight the election from Kolebira seat.

Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Bandhu Tirkey and Nalin Soren will fight elections from Hussainabad, Bhawanathpur, Mandar and Shikaripara assembly constituencies, respectively.

Except for Nalin Soren, all were elected either as independent or from smaller parties.

The Jharkhand assembly speaker in September disqualified seven legislators for switching sides. They include Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Kamlesh Singh and Enos Ekka.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also filed cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against five ex ministers and Madhu Koda. Only Nalin Soren is an exception, against whom the ED did not file a case under PMLA. Nalin belongs to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

The five-phased polls to the Jharkhand assembly will be held Nov 25-Dec 18 and the counting will be held Dec 23.