Niranjan asks Naveen to allow BJD MLAs to elect new leader

Bhubaneswar: Hitting out at ruling BJD in Odisha over chitfund scam, former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik on Monday asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to allow his party MLAs to elect a new leader as CBI is fast approaching him after interrogating his close aide Saroj Sahoo.

“Never before in the history of Odisha a serving chief minster had come under the cloud of CBI investigation. But, if the CBI is now knocking at the doors of Navin Niwas, the chief minister should take moral responsibility and resign to make way for his party men to elect a new leader till doubts over his roles are cleared,” Niranjan said in a statement.

Niranjan’s statement came two days after CBI interrogated Chief Minister’s personal aide and BJD office secretary Saroj Sahoo in connection with the multi-crore chitfund scam.

When MLA Prabhat Tripathy, MP Ramchandra Hansda, ex-MLA Subarna Naik and other BJD leaders were arrested in chitfund scam, neither the BJD nor the state government had any complaint, Niranjan pointed out adding that the ruling party now raised question on the central investigating agency after Saroj Sahoo was interrogated.

Dubbing Saroj Sahoo as a member of Naveen’s kitchen cabinet, Niranjan said, “BJD has done a volte-face accusing the investigation smacks of political vendetta”

“CBI has been investigating the chitfund case under the direction of the Supreme Court. Any such threat to CBI is undue pressure and clear violation of the commitment given by the state government to fully cooperate investigation,” Niranjan said.

If BJD politicises investigation to shelter its leaders, the Congress will not hesitate to hit the streets demanding a neutral probe by the CBI, he said.

Alleging that the BJD was trying to blackmail the CBI, Niranjan said the people of Odisha would reject any dilution in the investigation.

“Congress Party may also consider taking up the matter appropriately before the Supreme Court since the investigation is court monitored and it is the duty of the Apex Court to insulate the CBI,” Niranjan said.