Surrender, BJD tells fugitive Raghunath
Even as pressure mounted on former minister Raghunath Mohanty, facing charges of dowry torture, from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), to surrender, the Opposition Congress on Friday alleged that he has not been arrested with the tacit knowledge of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
With embarrassment for the BJD growing because of Mohanty who is missing for the past 15 days, deputy government chief whip Sanjay Dasburma said the former minister should first respect the law. “I would like to request the former minister, who is a senior leader of the BJD, to respect the law by surrendering,” he said. As Mohanty had resigned from the ministry by owning moral responsibility, he should now surrender, Dasburma said, indicating a sense of unease in the BJD over the issue.
On March 26, government chief whip Prabhat Tripathy had advised Mohanty to surrender in the interest of the BJD. “I will like Mohanty to surrender or immediately secure bail from appropriate court of law as his options in this case are limited,” Tripathy had told mediapersons.
However, senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra alleged that it is yet another ploy of the BJD to confuse the people. Mohanty is an accused in a dowry torture case and he should be arrested as per the law. Why should the government chief whip request him to surrender, Mohapatra asked. The Congress leader also criticised the Chief Minister for remaining silent on the entire issue. Though the issue had been raised several times by the Congress and the BJP in the Assembly during the ongoing session, the Chief Minister has completely ignored the issue.
Meanwhile, the women wings of the two Opposition parties have stepped up pressure on the Government to arrest Mohanty. Alleging that the former minister is yet to be arrested with the tacit knowledge of Naveen, the Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress (OPMC) said the Chief Minister is protecting Mohanty fearing that he may spill the beans on the mining scam. Mohanty was the Minister for Steel and Mines for a long period.
The BJP Mahila Morcha threatened to launch a statewide agitation demanding Mohanty’s arrest. The BJD leaders are requesting Mohanty to surrender and no action has been taken against him at the party level, the BJP said and added, “this shows how the ruling party is protecting the former minister.”
The five-time legislator had resigned from the Cabinet on March 15, a day after his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury lodged an FIR against him and his family members at the Balasore Town Police station alleging dowry torture.