Opposition parties demand Naveen’s resignation

Bhubaneswar: With M B Shah Commission recommending a CBI probe into alleged mining scam in Odisha, opposition Congress and BJP today demanded Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s resignation claiming his role in plunder of minerals has now been exposed.

“Reported findings of Shah Commission have unmasked Naveen Patnaik. As his role in mining loot is now exposed, the chief minister must resign forthwith and he should be arrested,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Jaydev Jena told reporters here.

Jena as well as leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh and Congress chief whip in assembly Prasad Harichandan said the allegations levelled by the party against Patnaik and BJD government have now been proved with reported findings of the Justice Shah Commission.

Stating that Congress would launch a state-wide agitation till the resignation of Patnaik, Jena said a hartal (strike) would be observed on January 7 throughout Odisha to press for their demand.

However, in view of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls on January 8, only a symbolic dharna would be held on M G Road here by the party, he said.

To a query on Central government’s role in mining scam, state Congress media cell chief Narsingh Mishra said while direct involvement of Odisha government in corruption is shown, Centre’s role was confined to only regulatory aspects.

“It was the responsibility of state government to ensure rules were strictly followed and all mining carried out with proper clearances and licenses,” Congress leaders said.

Making similar demands at a separate press meet, BJP state unit President K V Singhdeo said excess mining is not possible without the support of the state government which is well aware of the IBM approved quantity and the amount they should permit as per approved mining plan.

“How can the state government give permission beyond what has been approved by IBM ? No miner can sell any material without an approved permit which is issued by the state government,” he said.

Claiming that the chief minister’s role in mining scam had been established in Shah Commission findings, Singhdeo said Patnaik must step down immediately as he has no right to remain in office for a single day. A CBI probe should also be ordered into mining scam, he said.

“By falsely implicating some small mine owners through vigilance the chief minister cannot absolve himself of the wrong doing he had committed by allowing the large ones to go scot-free,” the BJP leader said.

He said the Shah panel had also pointed fingers at the Central government. .

Singhdeo alleged that even now, many months after the Shah Commission report, the miners near the Baitarani area were still operating with the connivance of the state machinery.

Shah Commission reportedly said that miners could not have operated without the approval of the state government, he said adding the chief minister held steel and mines portfolio for a long time.

On Centre’s role, Singhdeo said whether it be mining without pollution or environmental clearances or doing excess mining, both ban have been violated not only by the miners but with the tacit understanding of the state government and the Centre.

To this, Congress leader Prasad Harichandan said BJP has no moral right to raise the mining issue as the party shared power in the state with Naveen-led BJD for almost a decade before both parted ways before 2009 elections.

Dismissing opposition demand for Patnaik’s resignation, senior BJD leader and Health minister Damodar Rout said as per media reports, Shah Commission has also indicted the Central government.