Opposition Questions CM Naveen’s ‘Soft Corner’ For Babus

Bhubaneswar: A day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dismissed 16 officials in the biggest crackdown on corruption in the government machinery in last one month during which a total of 37 officials have had to face music, the Opposition has accused the government of rolling smaller heads but going soft on higher officials.

In 2018, Stae Vigilance had registered 429 criminal cases against 707 persons including 542 public servants. Out of these cases, less than half i.e 234 cases have been disposed and 16 cases were abated due to death of the accused persons and other causes. But much to the surprise, despite proven culpability, departmental action was taken against a total of 33 officials which included only 2 top officers.

And as far as the recent action against 37 tainted officials is concerned, almost all of them are low ranked. This is somewhat pointing towards the government’s soft corner for the babus.

Even the information provided by CM Naveen in the State Assembly substantiates the assumption. In last 10 years, while Vigilance Department has slapped up cases of corruption on as many as 11 IAS and 227 OAS officers, only four have been convicted. This apart, investigation is still underway in 68 cases.

The Opposition parties have raised questions on the government for seemingly showing leniency towards the top officials. Experts too have raised eyebrows on the matter.

“Until CM Naveen Patnaik takes exemplary action against higher authorities involved in 100s of crores worth of corruption be it through chit funds, mines or even PWD works, his so called zero tolerance towards corruption will always remain a show off and an image building process by fooling people,” said BJP leader Pradip Purohit.

Senior Congress leader Suresh Routray also toed the line with Purohit’s statements and called upon the government to initiate action against top officials involved in corruption. “Dismissal of these smaller officials like peon, RIs is useless because the government is not able to bring the ‘bada badias’ to court of law.”

However, BJD leader and S&ME minister Samir Ranjan Das refuted claims made by the opposition party leaders and said, “Allegations on the government’s inaction on IAS or OAS officials are false. There have been instances when such top officials have been sent behind bars.”

“Action can be taken against top officials and for that the government may take the help of Central Vigilance Commission, because what is more important is that even if ten guilty persons get unpunished, an innocent should never get punishment,” said former Police DG Bipin Bihari Mishra.