Over 60% Odisha Ministers Are Crorepatis; Naveen Patnaik Richest

Bhubaneswar: As many as 13 out of the 21 ministers in the present Odisha government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are crorepatis while one third of the total are facing criminal charges, an analysis of the criminal and financial backgrounds of the 21-member council of ministers by leading NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has revealed.

As per the reports, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the richest minister in the State government with a whopping 429 per cent rise in assets in last five years. In 2014, Patnaik had declared that he owned property worth Rs 12 crore but in 2019, his assets are worth Rs 63.87 crore.

Health Minister Naba Kishore Das is next to CM Naveen with property worth Rs 33 crore under his name as compared to Rs 10 crore in 2014. The rate of growth in his assets was 229 per cent in last 5 years.

Similarly, Pratap Jena whose assets grew from Rs 4 crore in 2014 to Rs 9 crore in 2019, comes third in the list of rich ministers in the State. Dibya Shankar Mishra’s assets also grew 246 per cent in last five years from Rs 2 crore to 9 crore.

The report also pointed out that the average assets of all the ministers account for Rs 7.34 crore.

A look at the criminal background shows that 8 out of 21 ministers in the State have pending criminal cases against them while 7 of them are facing serious charges.

ADR analysed data from the election affidavits of all the ministers to ascertain the details which revealed that Sudam Marndi is the most tainted with 11 cases pending against him. Apart from Marndi, minister Susant Singh, Samir Dash, Dibyashankar Mishra, Pratap Jena and Jagannath Sarka also have pending criminal cases against them.

Another interesting point, the report reveals is that 26 MLAs out of 67 winners with declared criminal cases have won against a runner up with clean background.

The ADR report mentions that 60 legislators have been re-elected in 2019 and surprisingly assets of 54 MLAs out of them including 51 legislators of BJD alone have increased in last 5 years. Satyabadi MLA Umakant Samantaray’s assets have recorded an exponential rise of 1,244 per cent, the maximum during the time.

The release of the ADR report meanwhile has spurred the Opposition parties to come down heavily on the ruling party.

On one hand while CM Naveen Patnaik is boasting about clean image and urging his party leaders to maintain a modest and simple lifestyle, the ADR report’s analysis indicates that most of them were busy in accumulating assets.

Congress leader Santosh Saluja said that it is a shocking revelation that most of the leaders and ministers of the ruling party have accumulated assets to a large extent through corrupt ways.

Senior BJP leader Damodar Rout known for his scathing remarks lashed out at the ruling BJD and its supremo and said, “Gandhi ji once said that a public representative is the one who gives up attempt to accumulate assets but nowadays our State government is promoting its opposite aspect.”

However, BJD Vice President Debi Mishra retaliated and said that the Opposition should show proof before accusing any minister or legislator of the ruling party of rampantly accumulating assets.