Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 14: 

After a daylong controversy over Odisha Excise Minister Damodar Rout’s ‘ghost’ remarks, allegedly directed at three of the leaders of his party Biju Janata Dal, the veteran today issued a clarification this evening and said that his comment was misinterpreted.

damodar rout dama

Speaking to Kanak News late this evening, Rout said that the conversation aired by various TV channels throughout the day today was an ‘off the record’ conversation and he had specifically asked the journalists not to air it – at least not so early. Besides, the ghost comment is being misinterpreted.

“A group of reporters called on me and asked various questions pertaining to democracy. I was replying to them. At one point, I gave them few examples from my past experiences. However, I had specifically asked them not to air it. At least not so early. They could have used it some other time,” said the BJD Vice President.

“So far as the ghost comment is concerned, I never said that there are three ghosts in Biju Janata Dal. What I said is: at a time when I was trying to enter the Chief Minister’s vehicle following an inauguration ceremony, I was shocked to see the three leaders – Debashish Samantaray, Pratap Jena and Bishnu Das sitting inside the car instead of attending the event. This was as shocking as if I saw ghosts,” he added.

While we are not able to certify whether the earlier conversation with reporters was ‘on the record’ or ‘off the record’, Rout was seen clearly saying, “I saw three ghosts seated inside. Those three ghosts — Debashish Samantaray, Pratap Jena and Bishnu Das were sitting inside the car” in his statement aired by TV channels today.

Reacting to the ghost comments, Jagatsinghpur BJD President Bishnu Das said, “He himself has been possessed by a ghost and needs to consult a witchdoctor”.

Interestingly, Rout earlier in the day made direct attacks at Debashish Samantaray, Pravat Biswal and Pratap Jena over their recent clashes in Cuttack politics and recent CMC bypoll loss.

“Biju babu brought me to politics. I have been associated with Cuttack politics since ages. I brought these men (Debashish Samantaray, Pravat Biswal and Pratap Jena) to politics. Now, they are asking me to keep off. It hurts to see the way things are going there,” Rout had said.

While Pratap Jena and Debashish Samantaray refused to comment, BJD Spokesperson Samir Dash said that as a Vice President of BJD and cabinet minister of the government, Rout could have taken it up with Naveen Patnaik, if he had any grievances. Besides, it was inappropriate of him to speak before the press, Dash added.

Notably, Choudwar-Cuttack MLA Pravat Biswal on June 5 reacted sharply to Rout’s comments after CMC bypoll loss and had said, “He is an MLA for Paradip. He should take care of his own constituency than interfere in the politics of Cuttack”.