Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 3:
Having received a shot in the arm in the form of the report of the Justice MB Shah Commission, which indicted the Odisha government for its involvement in the multi-core mining scam in the state, the opposition Congress and BJP today trained their guns at Naveen Patnaik seeking his immediate resignation from the chief minister’s post.
Cashing in on the report of the commission, the state Congress announced a state-wide dawn to dusk hartal on January 7 and appealed to the people to make it a huge success. It, however, clarified that the protest in Bhubaneswar will be restricted to a token dharna in view of the BMC elections the next day.
“The real face of Naveen Patnaik has come out after the Shah Commission report, which found illegal mining activities in the state. The allegation of the Congress party has been vindicated by the Commission. So, the Chief Minister should resign and face arrest immediately to prove his innocence,” said PCC president Jaydev Jena at a press conference in the company of senior party leaders Bhupindar Singh, Narasingh Mishra and Prasad Harichandan.
Jena informed that the hartal on January 7 would be followed up with a state level mass convention at Bhubaneswar in the first week of February, which will be attended by thousands of workers from across the state.
On its part, the state BJP maintained that Naveen Patnaik has no escape route from the mining scam left now as he will definitely land behind the bar for his direct involvement in the multi-crore scam.
“When the mining scam came to light, we had raked up the issue and said the state government is in connivance with the miners to allow them to exploit minerals illegally. In all mining cases, it is the chief minister who has taken all decisions. Every file was cleared at the chief minister’s level,” said state BJP president KP Singhdeo adding that Patnaik does not have any right to continue in the office even for a single day.
“It was the chief minister, who said the law will take its own course. It was the chief minister, who said that vigilance is the competent authority to investigate the scam. Now, the Shah Commission has rubbished the inquiry by vigilance and recommended a CBI inquiry. Will the chief minister allow a CBI inquiry to prove him clean as claimed by BJD leaders?” asked Singhdeo.
Appointment of G.Srinivas as Mines Secretary questioned
Singhdeo added a new twist to the whole affair questioning the appointment of G Srinivas as the Steel and Mines secretary replacing Rajesh Verma.
Giving a new twist to the scam, what the BJP president claimed an attempt to cover up the issue, he said a joint secretary of Mines department, Government of India, who was dealing with the mining scam, has been appointed as Odisha steel and mines secretary to have a tacit understanding with Centre.
“Whether in the matter of grant of pollution and environment clearance or excess mining, it is clear that there was a tacit understanding between the state and central governments,” alleged the BJP president.
“If there is no understanding between the centre and the state, then how come the same officer, who was joint secretary in the central ministry looking after Odisha, has been brought back by the state government and placed as the mines secretary,” asked Singhdeo.