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  India   All India  24 Sep 2018  CM Naveen Patnaik faces Opposition fire on corruption

CM Naveen Patnaik faces Opposition fire on corruption

Published : Sep 24, 2018, 12:59 am IST
Updated : Sep 24, 2018, 6:38 am IST

On September 12, the chief minister expelled Dr Rout from the BJD after he embarrassed him and his government by levelling corruption charges.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik at a public event.
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik at a public event.

Bhubaneswar: Once considered a crusader against corruption, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik now faces fierce attempts from the Opposition to nail him on the same subject, adding to his anxiety over the CBI probe into the chit fund scam.

The CBI, which had earlier arrested a sitting BJD Lok Sabha member, an MLA, two former MLAs, is said to be planning to bring to book the other accused leaders. According to Justice M.M. Das Commission of Inquiry, at least 174 chit fund firms duped 20 lakh investors in the state to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.

After every alleged expose, the chief minister, after smooth sailing for more than 18 years, finds few leaders to take up the cudgels for him. Fresh scams that surfaced in the last couple of months have come as fresh ammunition in the hands of Opposition to attack the Naveen government that has been eying the consecutive fifth term in 2019.

What has added to the woes of the chief minister and his government is an admission of corruption by Pradeep Maharathy, state agriculture minister, on the floor of state Assembly.

The fresh problems that have been haunting the Naveen government are Rs 100 crore sapling scam, Rs 800 core cooperative bank scam and Rs 30 crore Odisha Milk Federation (OMFED) scam. Besides, illegal quarrying of black stones from Dankari hill in Jajpur district allegedly under patronisation of the state administration has also harmed the government’s image.

Already suffocated under the earlier charges of alleged Rs 3 lakh crore mining scam and multi-crore chit-fund scam, the state government finds the new allegations of irregularities corroding its image faster and the Opposition managing to cash in on the situation.

The new charges, unlike the previous mining and chit-fund scams, have emboldened the Opposition more as they were brought by the ruling BJD’s seniormost member Dr Damodar Rout, a close aide of CM Naveen Patnaik’s father and former chief minister Biju Patnaik.

Dr Rout, a shrewd politician who commands respects among leaders of all political parties and people for his blunt remarks on crucial issues, said all the scams took place under the direct patronisation of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).

“I had a perception that Naveen Patnaik, son of great leader Biju Patnaik, is an honest person and hence I always defended him against the Opposition attack. But, as I find now, he is the keyman behind all these scams. Now that most of his party leaders are facing CBI probes, the chief minister has conveniently changed his policy to protect them to secure his seat,” said Dr Rout.

On September 12, the chief minister expelled Dr Rout from the BJD after he embarrassed him and his government by levelling corruption charges.

The Opposition got a shot in the arm when the state agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy admitted on the floor of the Assembly that his department had found irregularities to the tune of Rs 17 crore in supply of horticulture saplings. On the other hand, minister’s own party leader Dr Damodar Rout has said it is to the tune of Rs 100 crore. This allegation led to his expulsion from the party.

The ongoing monsoon session of the Odisha Legislative Assembly has witnessed repeated adjournment with the Opposition baying for the blood of CM Naveen Patnaik for shielding the scam accused.

“Despite minister Pradeep Maharathy admitting to the sapling scam and our presenting irrefutable evidence on the floor of the Assembly, the ruling BJD is brazenly putting up a brave front to save its skin,” said Narasingha Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in Odisha Legislative Assembly.

The BJP Legislature Party Leader in the Assembly, K.V. Singhdeo, said his party would go to the people with the fresh scam charges against the ruling BJD.

“How many charges the Naveen Patnaik government can refute? Its earlier vain attempt to protect chit-fund scam accused failed as CBI arrested many of them, including a sitting BJD MP and MLA. The sword of a CBI inquiry on mining scam is already hanging over its head and the new charges of irregularities will be proved beyond doubt,” said Mr Singhdeo.

Dismissing rivals’ charges, BJD chief spokesperson S.N. Patro said, “The corruption charges brought against us are fabricated and hold no water. The Opposition BJP and Congress, in desperate bids to come to power in the state, are trying to malign our party and leader’s image. They would never succeed in their attempts.”

Some observers beliive that unlike previous occasions, the BJD’s defence to the Opposition’s corruption charges appears to be feeble.

Tags: naveen patnaik, biju patnaik, naveen government