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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: As the controversy over former MP Baijayant Panda's chopper seize and Abhijit Iyer's derogatory comments intensifies, editor of Outlook, Ruben Banerjee, in an exclusive interview to OTV, speaks about his understanding of the issue, the ‘stupid’ comments, even more stupid action of Odisha police and the motive behind it all. Banerjee had recently written ‘Naveen Patnaik’, a biography of the Odisha CM.

Q: By writing that Abhijit Iyer-Mitra is just a collateral damage, real target is Jay Panda, what have you tried to imply?

A: To begin with I would like to put on record, I have never heard of Abhijit Iyer before. What he did, what he said is absolutely stupid, insensitive and immature. So I am not trying to defend this gentleman. What he did was definitely stupid and what the Odisha police is doing is even more stupid. The fact of the matter is on social media many people pass such comments. There are thousands of such posts. Now, are we supposed to take a cognizance of it? Odisha police should have been prompt in other cases as it showed in this particular case. I am not a defender of Jay Panda, I may agree with him or not. For me all the politicians are same. I think there is definitely more to it. The Odisha government is trying to create an example by using Abhijit Mitra. I think the target is definitely someone else. Abhijit Mitra is inconsequential in this scheme of things.

Q: Jay Panda is being dragged into this controversy and such dirty politics seem to be denting the image of a gentleman.

A: I am not here to defend Jay Panda. The case against Jay Panda will not stand the scrutiny of law. It is falling apart. Obviously, the administration and the police have not done their homework well. Jay Panda has very strong alibis and he has brought out very strong evidence so far. So more or less he had not really violated any rules and possibly he was not even in Chilika the time when he was supposed to be there according to the police.

Also Read: Abhijit Iyer Is Inconsequential, Naveen Personally Taking Interest To Embarrass Jay Panda: National Media

The fact of the matter is Jay Panda was flying with this gentleman, who had done something which is very stupid according to me. It should not have been done. Think of it , the helicopter case will not stand the test of law and it will possible fall by the side, it will crumble. This man (Abhijit Iyer) has said something which he shouldn't have. So they will try to taint Jay Panda for being an associate of Abhijit Iyer Mitra. Jay Panda will have to carry the burden. An environment is being created that this gentleman has hurt the culture of Odisha. This issue is being blown out of proportion. If Jay Panda had not been there, the government would not have acted. The government is now acting because they think tangentially they can get him involved.

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Q: Is it a conspiracy by State government against Jay Panda?

A: All I am saying is this is a political dirty game which is playing out in Odisha. Yesterday, I saw on Facebook that Naveen Patnaik is receiving a delegation of people, who were complaining against Abhijit Mitra. The very fact that CM Naveen Patnaik met a delegation who brought complaints against Jay Panda, means that Naveen Patnaik is personally taking interest in the case and that it is precisely what I am trying to say that this is just not a religious issue, it is more of a political issue because they think that this is one case where they can embarrass Jay Panda.

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