Cuttack, Dec 11:
No less than Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had campaigned for Rajesh Nayak, the BJD supported sarpanch of Khuntakata panchayat, who was arrested and whisked away by Kolkata police on charges of a series of crimes, including murder, on Monday.
At an election meeting organised by BJD legislator from Athagarh and a strong Nayak backer Ranendra Pratap Swain on January 25, 2012, Patnaik had urged the people to vote for Nayak, the BJD supported candidate, for the sarpanch post. It is another matter though that Nayak lost the election to independent candidate Bilas Chandra Behera by over 1, 000 votes despite the endorsement by the Chief Minister.
Eyebrows were raised when Behera resigned from the post citing health grounds a few months after winning the elections. The grapevine had it that he could not take on the might of Nayak, who ran a crime syndicate in the area and enjoyed the full backing of the local BJD MLA.
In the by-election that followed, no one dared contest the ‘Bahubali’, who went on to win uncontested. Having become sarpanch, Nayak further consolidated his position in the area, sources said.