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Desperate Odisha CM appoints ex Modi aide as advisor to State Planning Board

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 15:

Rattled by the recent arrest of senior BJD leaders, including an MP and a senior MLA by the CBI for their alleged involvement in the mega chit fund scam in Odisha and worried about the possible arrest of more ruling party leaders, party supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik has taken recourse to a desperate move to curry favour with the Narendra Modi dispensation at the Centre by appointing a former aide of the Prime Minister as an advisor to the State Planning Board.

Naveen Patnaik: Bid to curry favour with Modi govt?
Naveen Patnaik: Bid to curry favour with Modi govt?

The move to appoint Rabi Narayan Das, a Gujarat cadre officer who is believed to have an excellent relationship with Modi, to this newly created post with the rank of minister of state has taken BJD leaders completely by surprise. BJD leaders confide that the chief minister did not discuss consult anybody in the party or the government before taking the decision.

Sources in the party said that the chief minister took the decison to appoint Das on the advice of a BJP central leader, who enjoys very good relations with the Prime Minister, during his visit to New Delhi in the first week of November.

Das, known for his proximity to the Prime Minister’s additional principla secretary PK Mishra, had held important posts in the Gujarat government during the tenure of Modi as chief minister.

He was the chief information commissioner (CIC) of the Gujarat government from 2001 to 2006. He was also the secretary in the Union Food and Civil Supplies department and director of Enforcement Directorate (ED). Even after his retirement in 2011, he has been in constant touch with the Gujarat government. He is presently on a tour to Ahmedabad, sources said.

A native of Baleswar district, Das, after his retirement, now works as independent director of Balarampur Sugar Mills in Uttar Pradesh.

Das had no previous links with the BJD or even Odisha politics as a whole. If anything, he was reportedly considered as a possible BJP candidate at one time. That is why his appointment has raised eyebrows in political circles here with many linking reading it as an effort by the ruling party supremo to build bridges with the Modi government.

The State Planning Board, essentially a forum for political rehabilitation, has had no meeting in the last seven years.