Jena asks Odisha CM to quit on chit fund issue

Bhubaneswar: Accusing the BJD government of promoting a chit fund company, Union Minister and senior Congress leader Srikant Jena on Sunday demanded Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik resignation to ensure an impartial probe into alleged duping of investors by the firm.
 
"We have been seeking a CBI probe into the chit fund scam, but since the BJD government is opposed to the demand, the Chief Minister should step down till an inquiry by the Crime Branch (CB) is complete," Jena told reporters here.
 
Stating that the CB cannot conduct an impartial probe into allegations about the Chief Minister's involvement, the Congress leader said unless Patnaik quits office the chit fund inquiry cannot reach its logical end.
 
"In order to proclaim his innocence and keep his image intact, Naveen Patnaik should relinquish office till the chit fund investigation is over," the Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers said.
 
Claiming that the CB of Odisha police was dilly dallying the inquiry, he stressed that the investigating should be conducted under the supervision of Orissa High Court.
 
Claiming that the Chief Minister had graced a function marking the launch of a TV channel floated by a chit fund company, Jena claimed the firm had mobilised investors, depositors and agents at the function.
 
"The whole exercise gave an impression to people that the company was good and had the blessings of the Chief Minister. The company took advantage of Patnaik's presence to influence gullible investors," the Union minister said.
 
Jena further alleged that the BJD government had handed over at least nine primary health centres (PHC) and several facilities of tourism department to that chit fund company for operating under some special arrangement.


Similarly, the company was also allowed to operate a sport facility at Cuttack, he claimed adding, "all these clearly show that the BJD government actively promoted and patronised the company, which duped many investors." 



Turning to another chit fund firm, Jena said the arrested CMD of the company has claimed to have shared huge money with politicians and ministers.



Stating that 15-20 lakh people of Odisha had invested money in different chit fund companies, he said the amount of money 'swindled' by these firms must be much higher than Rs 1,500 crore as estimated by the crime branch.
 
Reacting to Congress leader's statement, Finance minister Prasanna Acharya said, "Srikant Jena's 'brand ambassador' comment is not in sync with political decorum."