Audio tape creates ripples in state

Bhubaneswar: After a hiatus of corruption allegations, an audio tape allegedly pointing fingers at horse-trading of a Congress legislator during the Rajya Sabha elections held last year is likely to haunt the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

A media report claims conversation of a BJD minister, Pushpendra Singh Deo, with a mediator to influence Congress MLA Shivaji Majhi was recorded in an audio tape. Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak got embroiled in the controversy as his name figured in the conversation of Pushpendra Singh Deo many times.

It may be recalled that the Congress leader abstained from voting for the Rajya Sabha election held on June 17 last year. The absence of the two Congress legislators, Shivaji Majhi and Gregory Minz, had fuelled speculations of a possible horse-trading at that time. The other legislator who was absent included Bhimsen Choudhury (BJP).

Though there was much hue and cry over the episode then, it could establish the veracity of the allegations. Now, the emergence of the audio tape has created political ripples in the state.  

The newly appointed Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said, action would be taken against the member of his party if the allegations are proved.

“Around that time, we made the statement that they were indulging in horse-trading, thanks to their money power. Now, the eyewitness account has come out. If the allegation against Congress legislator is proved, we will initiate action against him,” Niranjan Patnaik said.

On the other hand, Congress leader Lalatendu Bidhadhar Mohapatra stressed that he had reported the matter to the party high-command at that time.

BJP state unit vice-president Ashok Sahu said, the party had suspended Bhimsen Choudhury for his alleged involvement in horse-trading. At this juncture, the two BJD ministers in question should either tender resignation or be expelled from the party and a CBI inquiry should be ordered to ascertain the truth.

“These two ministers allegedly involved in horse-trading should either resign or the CM should expel them from the party and the CBI should probe the matter,” Ashok Sahu said.

However, Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said, it was a ploy to mislead people as panchayat elections would be held next year. The comments of Pushpendra Singh Deo and Shivaji Majhi were not available to OTV.

“I have no idea who is saying and what he is saying. If somebody links to me any allegation, I have nothing to say about it. I must say that panchayat elections are round the corner and there will be more rumours like this to mislead people,” Atanu Sabyasachi said.