Odishatv Bureau

Bhuabaneswar: Just as the war of words between Congress’ Lulu Mohapatra and BJD’s Sanjay Dasburma was starting to fade away from public consciousness, another standoff has kicked-off - this one between Cooperation minister Damodar Rout and Congress’ Bapi Sarkhel.

Sarkhel has alleged that Rout and his family had received favors from scam-tainted chit fund company Aastha International in retaliation for the cooperation minister's charge that the Congress leader is absconding in a fraud case.

According to Sarkhel, his allegation is proven by the fact that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted a charge sheet in the High Court in which it had mentioned that Rout’s family had received favors from the Aastha International. While Rout’s daughter had received Rs 10 lakh from the company, his son had received a luxury vehicle.

Moreover, Sarkhel has also questioned the amount which Rout had allegedly taken from Subhranshu Lenka’s mother to grant her a Zilla Parishad ticket. As a minister, Rout had also taken money from liquor firms.

“Information filed by CBI reveals that money was transferred to his daughter’s account. Moreover, his son rides a luxury Audi vehicle, despite being unemployed. How is he able to afford such luxuries? How much money has Damodar taken from Astha chit fund scam accused Subhranshu Lenka’s mother to grant a ticket? As a minister, he issued a government notification that liquor shops and bars should be closed by 10 PM. Again after 2-3 months, another notification was published relaxing the deadline to 11-11:30 PM. In these three months, he has collected around Rs 18-20 crores as bribe to extend the timings,” alleged Sarkhel.

Reacting to Sarkhel’s allegation, Damodar Rout said “People in the area I belong know me and my sources of income. However, Sarkhel is a migrant, who was working as a supervisor and is now a man of crores. People from his constituency don’t even know where he is from.”

The tiff between the two leaders from Paradip is not new. However, ahead of the discussion on a motion on criminal links of leaders in the Assembly, such a standoff is definitely a sign of things to come.