Hooch tragedy claims A U Singh Deo

Bhubaneswar: The Excise minister Anang Uday Singh Deo today resigned from the state cabinet in a highly dramatic manner owning moral responsibility for the illicit liqour tragedy that struck in Cuttack and Khurda districts. Chief minister Naveen Pattanaik forwarded the resignation letter to the Governor for approval. Thirty-two persons have died due to consumption of the killer brew at an illegal shop at Mahidharpada, about 20 kilometres from Cuttack.

"I have resigned on moral grounds. There was no pressure on me for my resignation," said Anang Uday Singh Deo after sending his resignation letter to the chief minister. The Opposition parties like the Congress and the BJP including several other Left parties were clamouring for Anang Udya`s resignation and held demonstrations and road blockades in several parts of the state. Anang Uday had the dual charge of planning and co-ordination ministry.

The first phase of polling for the three-tier panchayats would be held on February 11 and it was feared that A U Singh Deo`s continuation in the cabinet in the wake of the hooch tragedy might adversely affect the poll prospects of the BJD. Finally, the Bolangir MLA and the excise minister put in his letter today. He was handed over the excise portfolio only nine months ago.

The Opposition was not still not happy with the resignation of the excise minister. President of the Pradesh Congress Committee, Niranjan Pattanaik said,"The chief minister should also quit. It is Naveen Pattanaik who is responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state." The leader of the BJP legislature party, K V Singh Deo said,"Naveen Pattanaik should also own moral responsibility and quit." Only time would tell whether the Opposition or the ruling BJD wins the final battle.