Himansu Shekhar Rout

Days after getting relief from the Delhi High Court, which stayed his conviction in a coal scam case pertaining to irregularities in the allocation of a Jharkhand coal block in 1999, former union minister, Dilip Ray reached Rourkela on Wednesday to a rousing welcome from hundreds of his supporters.  

Ray told the media, "No leader of Odisha has been received by people like I was received here. I am really emotional over such a warm welcome. The people have handed me victory even without contesting elections.”

Beaming a smile, the veteran leader said, “I am still with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as my resignation has not been accepted till date.”

He also said that his supporters spontaneously received him on his arrival in the Steel City.   

While the BJP has not indicated anything about his contesting election, Ray said, “If people are ready for the election, then, I am ready. The party will decide. Everything in this regard will be clear in a day or two.”

On April 8, the Delhi High Court stayed the conviction of Ray, who was sentenced to a three-year jail term in a coal scam case. The stay on his conviction has enabled him to contest the upcoming elections in Odisha.

Ray was sentenced to three years in jail on October 26, 2020 by a trial court which had also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on him. Ray, 71, was Minister of State (coal) in the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. 

He said in his petition that he wishes to contest the upcoming Odisha Assembly elections and this could be his last chance to serve the people.

He arrived in the Steel City on Wednesday amid speculations that the BJP is likely to field him in the Rourkela Assembly seat.

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