“Did Birla-led Trust give Rs 8 cr to get recommendation for coal mine?”: Cong

Bhubaneswar, May 6 (PTI) With Odisha’s ruling BJD admitting that it had received Rs 8 crore on a single day from Aditya Birla’s General Electoral Trust, opposition Congress today wanted to know whether the money was given to get state government’s recommendation for Talabira coal mine.

“We want to know whether Birla Trust donated Rs 8 crore to BJD in order to get state government’s recommendation for reconsideration after the central government’s screening committee rejected the application for Talabira coal mines,” Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra told reporters in the assembly premises.

No senior official of Aditya Birla Group was immediately available for comment.

On BJD’s clarification that its accounts were verified by the Election Commission and the party regularly filed income tax return, Mishra said “it is good that they (BJD) have admitted to have received Rs 8 crore from Birla-run GET.

We also do not deny that the ruling party had undergone audit of the Election Commission. But we want to know the intention behind the payment to the ruling party.”

Stating that he suspected that the money was paid to the ruling party after Aditya Birla’s application was rejected by the screening committee, Mishra asked whether the state govenrment was ready to face investigation in this regard.

Mishra said a thorough investigation should be made to find out the reason behind payment of Rs 8 crore to the ruling party by Birla-led Trust.

Congress Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati also wanted to know the source of money deposited by one Purna Chandra Padhi in the BJD account. He said Padhi had deposited about Rs 35 lakh in the BJD account on April 6 and 10, 2014.

While clarifying the earlier questions raised by the leader of opposition, Law Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo had admitted that the SBI bank account number given by him (Mishra) was owned by BJD. He also distributed copies of cheques worth Rs 8 crore of a private bank.

Sahoo said General Electoral Trust had issued a letter to the treasurer of BJD informing about the release of Rs 8 crore on April 9, 2014. The letter was signed by GET’s honerary secretary Nitin Mathuria.

The Law Minister also said that BJD was not the lone political party which received the donation from GET. Congress and BJP too received Rs 100 crore and Rs 70 crore respectively from GET during 2000-2014, he claimed.

“If BJD received Rs 8 crore from GET to recommend the coal block in favour of Birla, what for Congress and BJP got such a huge amount from the Trust,” said BJD spokesman Samir Ranjan Dash.