BHUBANESWAR: Minister of State for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Sanjay Dasburma, who is in the eye of a storm over his alleged links with chit fund scam-tainted Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, on Thursday described the Opposition campaign against him as a political conspiracy even as another BJD MP Nagendra Pradhan maintained that the Minister should respect public opinion.
Stating that he has submitted all documents relating to Pajero SUVs and other vehicles owned by him and his relatives to the CBI, Dasburma, while launching an Aahar centre at Puri, reiterated that he will retire from politics if allegations against him are proved. He asked the opposition political parties to submit documents in their possession to the CBI. The Minister, however, drew the ire of Congress workers at Puri who showed black flags to him demanding his resignation.
Meanwhile, in yet another embarrassing development, senior BJD leader and Sambalpur MP Nagendra Pradhan said those who are in positions of power should respect public opinion for the good of society. Citing the example of Lord Ram, Pradhan said he had to banish Sita despite knowing that she was pure.
“Though Dasburma claims innocence, the Chief Minister will take a call on the issue,” the MP said.
On the other hand, senior Congress leader and former president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik raised questions over the manner in which CBI probe into AT chit fund scam was completed to protect the Minister. The name of Dasburma figured in CBI interrogation of AT Group chief Pradip Sethy a year and a half back, but remained unknown.
“But how can interrogation of an accused be completed in one sentence?” Patnaik asked and said the investigating officer (IO) is duty bound to ask next questions regarding his address, why the car was gifted and what was the modus operandi.
“The IO cannot stop after recording only one sentence,” the former minister said and described his behaviour as extra-ordinary. Patnaik wanted to know if it was a mistake or deliberately done to protect Dasburma.
The former minister demanded that the source of money, which the Minister deposited in UCO Bank to repay the loan he had taken from Vijaya Bank to purchase the vehicle, should be identified.
The Congress leader asked several questions which include whether the Minister had informed the Speaker while taking loan to purchase the vehicle, why he abruptly disposed of the vehicle and how did he and his family members amass so much wealth within such a short time.
Patnaik alleged that chit fund companies found new ways to cheat people and those in power invented new methods to share the booty.
The loan was taken by Dasburma, but the repayment was done by Sethy, he said.
The CBI knows this but has been asked not to probe further, he added.