Cracks in BJD over Task Force on Plots
BHUBANESWAR: At a time when the State is reeling under severe floods and potato crisis, senior BJD leaders including Excise Minister Damodar Rout are fighting over the formation of task force to go into the details of the allotment of plots and houses through discretionary quota, the target being Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das, a major beneficiary of the scam.
Opposition of some of the senior leaders to the task force has led to a war of words within the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with former minister Bishnu Das demanding Rout’s resignation if he does not have faith in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Das, a known bete noire of Rout, said the Minister should not have gone to the Press with his reservations over constitution of the task force. Alleging that Rout is trying to blackmail the Chief Minister on the issue, Das said it is a conspiracy against the BJD Government.
The former minister alleged that Rout has turned a dissident after he failed to get a party ticket for his son in Assembly polls and his daughter, a BJD corporator, could not become the mayor of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). Das also demanded disciplinary action against other senior leaders, who questioned the formation of the three-member task force headed by additional chief secretary (Revenue) Taradatt.
Countering Das, Rout said he should introspect why he had to resign from the Cabinet a few years back.
In a bid to corner Kalpataru, Rout, known as a loose cannon, and other senior leaders had raised doubts about the task force alleging that the track record of some of its members was not clean.
Rout was the first to question the ethics behind constitution of a task force with members whose role in the scam has come under scanner. Former finance minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, who was denied party ticket in the last election, also stepped in to embarrass the Government. Ghadei demanded that officials against whom allegations have been made should not be in the task force. Three other senior leaders, former finance minister Prasanna Kumar Acharya, former minister Kalindi Charan Behera and former Government Chief Whip Rabi Narayan Pani also demanded restructuring of the task force.
PR Secretary Denies Charges
Bhubaneswar: With several senior BJD leaders raising fingers at the composition of the Task Force to probe into allotment of plots and houses under discretionary quota, Panchayati Raj Secretary DK Singh on Monday said he is neither a beneficiary of the discretionary quota nor had he allotted houses or plots to anyone under such quota. Singh, who is in charge of Housing and Urban Development department, told reporters that he has not recommended any names for availing plots or houses when he was
vice-chairman of Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). There was just one project - Phokhariput Duplex Housing project - where three houses were allocated under the discretionary quota when he was BDA vice-chairman. However, all three houses were allocated by the then chairman. Singh further clarified that he was only holding additional charge as Secretary H&UD department as Secretary of the department G Mathivathanan is on leave.