Cong targets PM on chit fund, mining scams in Odisha

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for laxity in the CBI probe into the chit fund and mining scams in Odisha.

In a joint press meet in New Delhi, AICC leader Jairam Ramesh and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan said the recent statement of Union Tribal Welfare minister Jual Oram has made it clear that the CBI is dancing to the tune of Prime Minister.

Both the leaders demanded that the Supreme Court should monitor the CBI investigation into the mega chit fund and mining scams in Odisha.

“Jual Oram is a responsible and outspoken minister. He has briefed the media after realizing the fact. His statement gives ample testimony to the blackmailing of the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik by the prime minister. The prime minister has gone soft on Naveen to get the support of the BJD in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP does not have a majority,” Ramesh said.

It may be mentioned that Oram, in an exclusive interview to OTV on January 1, had said the state government should thank the Centre as it had let it off the hook in the chit fund and mining scams. He had also said that the BJD government would have been ‘finished’ in the state had the Centre stood firm on the CBI probe into these two mega scams.

“We now stand vindicated with shocking revelations, which prove that Prime Minister is not letting the CBI investigate into the charges of corruption against the Naveen Patnaik government in the ‘Saradha’ and ‘Mining’ scams. In fact, we stand vindicated qua the fact that BJP and BJD are in cahoots in looting the resources and people of Odisha,” the AICC leader said while showing the OTV news video clippings on the statement of Union Tribal Welfare minister Jual Oram on CBI probe into the chit fund scam in Odisha on Friday.

Ramesh said Oram’s clear-cut admission is confirmation of what Congress party has maintained for long.

“The BJD government is involved in ‘mining scams’ worth thousands of crores and its ministers, MPs and MLAs are neck deep in the ‘Saradha Chit Fund’ scam that defrauded ordinary people to the tune of Rs 2,984 crore. The Prime Minister is blatantly misusing the CBI to protect Naveen Patnaik government, rather than letting it investigate and prosecute the guilty,” Ramesh observed.

Training his guns on the Nnaveen Patnaik government, the senior Congress leader said it had been sitting pretty and doing a wishy-washy State Police probe into all the allegations of corruption against itself.

“The state government took a Commission of Inquiry (Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry) in June 2013 and the Supreme Court on March 26 and May 9 in 2014 to deliver judgments in Public Interest Litigations (PILs) to ensure that the CBI takes up the inquiry into the mining and Saradha scams. However Modi is ensuring that none of this reaches a logical conclusion by subverting the very process of investigation by CBI,” he noted.

He further said this convoluted game of managing the CBI for Patnaik and company is also blatant contempt of the Supreme Court where until as late as November 30 last year when the CBI gave an undertaking and assurance that it is “appropriately investigating” the cases and that it would “obviously review the need for holding further investigation under relevant sections of the Cr.PC,” Ramesh added.

He said the statement made by Oram, who holds a Constitutional brief, belies any assertions on part of the CBI or its boss, the Prime Minister and the BJP on the contrary.

“Reason for not appointing a Lokpal by Union BJP government is also now clear. With a Lokpal in place, CBI would come under its jurisdiction. Consequently manipulation galore to suit Prime Minister’s political agenda of helping friends and prosecuting opponents by political vendetta will then not be served by CBI which is being held captive at the door steps of PMO currently. Admission of Oram also provides sad evidence of the fact that the Modi government is grossly misusing the CBI to implement a ‘carrot and stick policy’ to make smaller parties come around to fulfill its own political agenda,” Ramesh maintained.

Talking exclusively to OTV after the press briefing, Ramesh said; “You see, 20 lakh families and Rs 50,000 crore. Only a Supreme Court-monitored CBI inquiry will bring out the complete truth the nexus between the politicians, bureaucrats, police officials and unscrupulous funds,” he mentioned.

He said as far as the mining scam is concerned, Justice MB Shah had recommended a CBI inquiry which has not been ordered. “We want that the Supreme Court, like the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, should monitor the CBI probe into the mining scam in Odisha,” the AICC leader added.

Asked whether the Odisha chief minister should resign, Ramesh said the chief minister has lost his moral authority and is surviving on his immoral authority.

Talking about Oram with whom he had worked on Vedanta and Posco issues the past, he said the Union Tribal Welfare minister is an honest person and always speaks his mind. “He (Oram) has revealed the truth. The truth is that Mr Naveen Patnaik is being blackmailed by Mr Narendra Modi to support the BJP government in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This is a complete misuse and abuse by the CBI,” he averred.

The OPCC president later told OTV that the claim of the Congress on the BJD-BJP nexus has finally come true. “Not only this, Congress had the evidence of the nexus between these two parties. Laxity in CBI probe into chit fund scam was due to the secret deal between these two parties. Later, the deal became open with the meeting between the chief minister and the prime minister as the BJD MPs supported the NDA government in the passing of GST Bill, Insurance Bill, MMDR Amendment Bill and Coal Amendment Bill in the Parliament. Besides, it became more prominent after the Union Tribal Welfare minister gave his statement to OTV,” Harichandan said.

Reacting to the statement of the Congress leaders, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said the BJP had brought similar charges against the BJD government during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government was at the Centre. Now the Congress has made similar allegations when the BJP-led NDA government is at the Centre.

“All these allegations of the Congress are baseless. The Congress is trying to raise such issues as it has failed to garner people’s support. The fact remains that the relationship of the BJD government with the NDA government is limited within the constitutional provisions. It has no political angle,” Satpathy told the media.