Till the time this piece was being written, there was no official word from the CBI that BJD MLAs Arun Sahu and Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak have indeed been served notices in connection with the chit fund scam. Though it was ‘breaking news’ on all local TV channels on Tuesday evening, the source for all of them was the same: an ANI tweet. With BJD spokesperson Dr. Sasmit Patra making it clear that the two party leaders were yet to receive the notice, one has to wait for confirmation whether any such notice has indeed been served in the first place. More so because one of the two was apparently asked to appear before the agency on January 28, a day before the new broke.
But assuming that the notice has actually been served, the CBI couldn’t have chosen a worse time to do it. The names of these two powerful ruling party men – as also those of several other worthies - have been doing the rounds for their alleged involvement for at least four years now. During this period, top agency sleuths have air dashed to Bhubaneswar and taken stock of the investigation on countless occasions without the probe making any worthwhile progress. The timing of the alleged notice (it will remain that till there is official confirmation about it) would make it suspect in the eyes of any layman. So low is the CBI’s credibility in the public eye at the moment that few people will believe the CBI has suddenly stumbled on some incriminating evidence against them that they could not ferret out for four years. Everyone will believe that the ‘caged parrot’ has done a hatchet job at the behest of its political masters to embarrass the BJD ahead of the elections – just like the notice issued by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police on Niranjan Patnaik and his son in a fraud case just a day ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state on January 25 seemed an act of vendetta to embarrass the Congress. [By a strange coincidence, the source for that piece of news was also an ANI tweet!]
Once we accept that it was a political move rather than the result of the natural progress of the investigation, the inevitable question that comes is: what could be the possible motivation for it at a time when the BJP top brass is engaged in a scarcely veiled effort to woo Naveen Patnaik? The only possible answer to this question is that this could be the Modi government’s way of keeping Naveen, who has been rather belligerent on the BJP and the Modi government of late, on a tight leash. Naveen’s new found aggression could be part of an exercise to dispel the impression that he has a ‘deal’ with the BJP, while the Modi government’s latest move could well be an effort to remind him that he cannot afford to go too far in his criticism without risking the CBI being let loose on him. For all one knows, the CBI could be taken off his back as suddenly as it was placed there in the first place once the BJD supremo ‘falls in line’ – as has happened on numerous occasions in the last five years.
Naveen showed that he is game for the cat and mouse game when Chhatrapur police served notice on BJP leaders Golak Mohapatra and Bhrugu Buxipatra in the Laxmidatta Pradhan murder case barely hours after news of the CBI notice to Sahu and Nayak hit the ‘breaking news’. Like the CBI move that prompted it, the notice would carry no credibility because it comes more than a year after Mohapatra was interrogated by Chhatrapur police and will be seen for what it really is: showing the BJP that Naveen too has a few aces up his sleeve.
Make no mistake. It is all part of the posturing and shadow boxing by both sides with no intention of getting to the bottom of the case or bringing the culprits to book. And this battle of attrition will undergo several twists and turns as elections near.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)