Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 4:
The reactions of three major political parties in Odisha – BJD, BJP and Congress – to the arrest of Mayurbhanj MP Ramchandra Hansda and former MLAs Subarna Nayak and Hitesh Bagarti today was along predictable lines.
While the ruling party has sought to wash its hands of saying the party had nothing to do with what its arrested members did, the two opposition parties tore into the BJD and the government accusing them of being involved in the mega chit fund scam.
BJD spokesman and former minister Rabi Narayan Nanda said; “Nobody is above law. Since the CBI has found prima facie evidence against them, they have been arrested. Our party was not providing any protection nor shielding any tainted leader involved in the ponzi scam. The party has nothing to do with their activities.”
While calling the arrest of their party leaders as ‘unfortunate’, Nanda said the BJD has 40 lakh families as its members and no one can know who is involved in the scam or not from his/her face.
In his reactions to the arrests by the CBI earlier in the day, PCC president Jayadev Jena could scarcely hide his glee at the discomfiture in the ruling party.
“It was clear from the day their houses were raided and they were repeatedly interrogated by the CBI that they will be arrested. It’s only the tip of the iceberg as only a few of the 44 chit fund companies listed by the Supreme Court have been investigated by the CBI so far . Wait and watch. More skeletons will tumble out, including senior leaders and ministers,” he prophesied.
“It is an eloquent testimony to the transparent and clean government that the BJD never tires of tom-tomming. They say it is the ‘personal affair’ of those arrested. But what about Seashore Group with which the government had itself signed several MoUs? Isn’t the ruling party responsible for it?” asked senior Congress leader and former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
While lambasting the ruling party, the BJP was rather apologetic about the arrest of one of its own, Hitesh Bagarti.
“Right from the day the chit fund scam came to light, we have been saying that the ruling party MLAs and MPs are involved in it. It has now come true. Yes, one of those arrested today is a former BJP MLA. More names are going to come out as the investigation by the CBI progresses,” said K V Singhdeo president of BJP state unit.
“We feel ashamed for having given a party ticket to Hitesh Kumar Bagarti. Had we not given party ticket to Bagarti, he would not have become an MLA and cheated people,” BJP spokesman and former state party president Suresh Pujari told reporters.
Pujari stated that the BJP state leadership regretted the incident and pointed to the fact that Bagarti was not given a party ticket for the 2014 elections.
Senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said Bagarti was no more a member of BJP. However, he admitted that Bagarti became a director Nabadiganta Capital Service, a ponzi company, when he was a BJP MLA.