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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Targeting the State government once again, expelled ruling-BJD leader Damodar Rout today accused VK Pandian, the private secretary of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of deliberately stalling the process to bring an ordinance to protect the rights of sharecroppers in the State.

Spilling the beans, Rout alleged that it was due to Pandian, the sharecroppers’ bill was put in cold storage.

“I was a member of the working committee on sharecropper legislation and a decision was taken to bring an ordinance in September 2017. But Ministers Maheswar Mohanty and Surya Narayan Patro relented stating that 'Pandian Sir' denied taking it forward,” Rout alleged.

Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty refuted the allegations levelled by Damodar Rout. He stated that as the legislation for sharecroppers is a sensitive issue, Odisha government wanted to finalise it after ensuring that both the rights of the landlords and sharecroppers are well protected and this process is leading to a delay.

On the other hand, Odisha government has decided to provide a loan of Rs 50,000 to sharecroppers by forming joint liability groups.

Meanwhile, Congress alleged that such a step is taken to disburse money to BJD workers instead to farmers.

“Whatever Damodar Rout said is absolutely true. The government is providing loan of Rs 50,000 not to farmers, but to BJD’s party workers,” said Opposition party Chief Whip and Congress leader, Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

BJP leader Pratap Sarangi said “Bureaucrats are everything and ministers here cannot take any decision. The government will not dare to dissatisfy land mafias for which the farmers will continue to suffer.”

Damodar Rout also targeted the Odisha government for allegedly suppressing the Kunduli gang rape case which had sparked public outcry in the State in 2017.

Rout alleged that the forensic evidences were tampered with as the deceased victim’s clothes were changed before they were sent for forensic tests.

“The deceased Kunduli girl had narrated that she was subjected to sexual assault by three men in uniform. Even BJD Scheduled Caste Cell president Bishnu Das corroborated after visiting the spot. But just to save one Tamil constable, the matter was hushed up by the Odisha government,” alleged Rout.

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