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Stain is nice: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's clean image getting stained!
The Ponzi Scam investigations by Central Bureau of Investigation is taking a heavy toll of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha. For more than three months CBI investigation has been the main news everyday in all the media. And now the investigating agency has started arresting one after another political leaders from the BJD party.

Apart from bringing bad name for the BJD, it also has in a way demeaned the state investigating agency - Crime Branch. The investigations of the chit fund scam were under the Crime Branch and the Commissionerate Police. Apart from making a perfunctory arrest of the owners of the chit fund companies it did nothing to bring the big wigs to book, though those arrested provided clues to these agencies with evidence. 

Failure of crime branch or the state police is not the failure of just another department. It is the failure of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who holds this department. More serious issue is ? ordering Crime Branch Investigation has been the main tool of Naveen Patnaik in combating corruption and maintaining his clean image.

The number of corruption cases filed and the percentage of conviction is the statistics that the clean imaged Naveen Patnaik boasts of and to hide his government's corruption and failure, he orders vigilance and crime branch investigation, because both departments are under his control.

Now that CBI arrests the BJD leaders whom the state agencies failed to book has sent out the message loud and clears that crime branch investigations are simply an eye wash and justifies those who always demand for CBI enquiry for any crime where the complicity of ruling party leaders is suspected.

Such developments has beaten the characteristic statement of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik "Law will take its own course" hollow. All these are no good news for the regional outfit. Despite the efforts to put up a brave face, many BJD leaders in the state have started confiding privately that may this may the beginning of the end for the BJD, which has been ruling the state since last fourteen years.

Within a span of five days, four top political leaders have been arrested by the CBI. Ramachandra Hansda (sitting BJD Lok Sabha MP from Mayurbhanj), Subarna Nayak (Ex-BJD MLA from Keonjhar) and ex BJP MLA of Khariar Hitesh Bagarti in connection with Chit Fund scams. The first one arrested was standing MLA Pravat Tripathy top rank leader and chief whip of BJD party. His arrest led to a law and order situation in the CBI campus. The CBI office was paralyzed for almost three hours and the local police whom the CBI called for help was a mute spectator.

The charges against them are criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation of funds. This was more than enough to send the shock waves down the party line, particularly so for the ruling BJD. BJD and its supremo both are perturbed to such an extent that immediately after the arrest of Pravat Tripathy, he was suspended from the party without even bothering to call for an explanation. This has been to the discomfort and creates disturbances among the BJD party leaders. Odisha High Court refused the bail for Pravat Tripathy.

Naveen Patnaik is now desperate to distance itself from any one who is arrested in ponzi scam. But at the same time does not have the guts to call for explanation and suspend the leaders before being booked for the scam.

This would be hara-kiri of sorts for BJD to admit the guilt in advance. In the other hand, this type of suspension to the BJD leaders is a shroud and diplomatic political game plan by Naveen is playing to avoid the people's mind and to build his clean image of his party. Because he has not mentioned a single word in the suspension order that why the BJD leaders are suspended? When the issues will silent and cool then Naveen will again bring to these leaders. In the past Naveen has done this type of diplomacy with BJD leaders like Debasis Naik.

The chit fund investigations have eroded the clean image of Naveen Patnaik to such an extent that every time he visited Delhi in recent past (and now a days he is frequenting the national capital more often than before) the tea stall gossip (after once tea seller Modi being anointed as the PM they have added importance) is that he has gone there to request Modiji to spare his close aides and ask CBI to go slow.

The people of Odisha do not even remember any journalist asking questions like the one asked him as he landed in Delhi recently ? Have your come to Delhi to manage CBI? The Odisha CM has to respond in a quite an uncharacteristic manner - 'It is a ridiculous suggestion'.

"There are enough reasons for this kind of a perception in the media. That is what people talk about in beetle shops and tea stalls. People here have come to the realization that it is not a case of involvement of stray BJD leaders here and there. People very strongly believe that chit fund scam roots go very deep within the ruling party BJD.

The revelation that during the PIL in the Supreme Court that ordered the CBI probe, government of Odisha had engaged a top notch advocate Gopal Subramanyam primarily to keep seven chit fund companies like AT group, Seashore, etc out of the purview of the CBI probe. This costs the state exchequer more than Rs. 35 lakhs of public money. What was the interest of the state in trying to protect seven Chitfund companies from the CBI lens?"

One of your leader told in public that, around 4 crores rupees of Cheat Fund money have invested in Government's public work in his constituency, how is it possible?When the scribe asked these questions to Naveen, he avoided to answer this.

On 5th November Naveen Patnaik has told the media persons that the involvement of the BJD leaders like Pravat Tripathy, Ranchandra Hansda and Subarna Baliarsingh in the Chit fund scam is their personal affair and the party has nothing to do with them. And he did not forget to add that the law will take its own course. Then what the law had been doing all these years while the poor people of Odisha were duped by these companies?

Why Odisha Government appointed an advocate in the Apex court to oppose a PIL's CBI investigation. Is it not a duty of the Naveen's Government to protect public interest? Rather the government was providing legitimacy to these companies through public appearance of the ministers including the Chief Minister in the functions of the Chit fund companies. Government had been doing business with these companies as well.

As the investigations progress and information trickles out, people in Odisha are awe struck with the enormity of the scam and the all the digging in the CBI has to do. Till date CBI has investigated only 3 Chit fund companies AT group, Seashore and Navadiganta - that too partially. And more than a dozen are behind the bars. When the investigating agency covers the whole lot of 44 companies that the Supreme Court has directed it to, one can imagine that the number of BJD and political leaders accused will be large in number.

And there are many more companies that have not brought under the purview of the investigation like Aastha group. Now the insiders say that presently the number has swelled to 64. Suresh Pujari, ex-President of Odisha BJP has commented sarcastically the jail in Bhubaneswar need to be made multi storied to accommodate the scamsters. As the investigating agency follows the money trail more and more people are bound to be rounded up.

It is being allaged that Debashish Samantaray, Arun Sahu, Sanjay Dasburma of BJD and Naba Das congress are involved in this Scam andmay soon be interrogatedby the CBI. It is alleged that the state government is giving permission to interrogate these BJD leaders. In a strange incidence a RTI application has revealed that the driver of Debashish Samantaray owns a Mercedes Benz, raising suspicion aboutbenamiownership by the minister.

A local news paper has been able to lay its hands on a series of compromising pictures in possession of the Chit fund companies. These companies were running a honey trap for the politicians and bureaucrats and recording the same to black mail them in case their work is not done. Around a hundred hotels and guest houses were involved in laying these honey traps.

The task is enormous and the team of the CBI is not big enough to deliver. It has to do so much to dig out. And the Amicus Curie Shyam Diwan appointed by the Supreme Court also has appealed to the honorable Supreme Court that the CBI does not have the available infrastructure and the human resources to investigate the scam. Unless the infrastructure and the human resources are enhanced, it will be years before the investigation is finished and the poor people of India will not get justice.

Whether the investigation goes on fast or slow is a different issue. But it now seems too obvious that the last days of the BJD government are counted. But it also will be noteworthy to mention here that Chit fund scam cuts across party line, as the ruling party BJD has a lions' share, but others too have had theirs. After the expose of the great land and mining scam and the involvement of the Naveen's top BJD leaders now it is sparkling that the clean image of Naveen Patnaik getting stained substantially the opposition political leaders are telling Naveen's Daag Achhe Hain (stain is nice)!

People are telling, "Ponzi Scam snowballing into a political disaster for ruling BJD." But due to the internal fighting in both the opposition party BJP and Congress have failed to take this stain in front of mass public.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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