Athagarh, Dec 17:
Who is the godfather of Rajesh Nayak, Kolkata gangster turned sarpanch of Khuntakata panchayat in Athagarh subdivision? Under whose patronage did this most wanted criminal don of Kolkata join the ruling party politics and flourish? And who were the people who provided protection from the police in several cases of murder and extortion till he was arrested by West Bengal police?
These questions are the ones being asked by all and sundry in the Athagarh area after the extent of his criminal empire became public. The name that unfailingly figures in any discussion on the don turned sarpanch is that of BJD MLA from Athagarh Ranedra Pratap Swain. Swain’s cosy relationship with the criminal is now the talk of the town.
Rajesh is not a native of Athagarh. His father, late Shankar Nayak, a native of Mandiragada Harijan Sahi in Banki, worked in Kolkata while Rajesh used to stay with him there, sources said.
Starting as a petty criminal, Rajesh soon expanded his criminal network in Kolkata. With serious charges like murder and extortion against his name in Kolkata, he found Athagarh to be a safe haven to hoodwink the police with political patronage, sources added.
His father-in-law had a piece of land in Khuntakata in Athagarh, on which Rajesh built a house for himself in 2007. He used to occasionally stay in this tin roofed house during his visits.
Reports say some local leaders had asked Rajesh to contest for the post of sarpanch. Keeping the Panchayat elections in mind, he managed a voter’s identity card in 2011. His name is listed against serial number 182 in the voters’ list. Rajesh contested the panchayat elections as a sarpanch candidate for Khuntakata panchayat in 2012, but lost to Bikash Behera, an independent candidate.
But mysteriously, Behera resigned as sarpacnh barely four months after winning the election. Bye elections were held and Rajesh won the elections unopposed as a BJD supported candidate, sources said.
Rajesh owns a luxury villa at Jagatpur, often the talk of the town for the presence of an unusual number of red beacon vehicles in its premises. One wonders how these ministers, MLAs and politicians could remain unaware of Rajesh’s criminal antecedents.