Targeting CMO, MLA Pradeep Panigrahi Says ‘Gang Of 5’ Looting Odisha; BJD Counters

Bhubaneswar: Sharpening his attack on the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, expelled BJD leader and Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi on Monday targeted the office of the Chief Minister.

Claiming that the state is stung by large scale financial irregularities, the former Minister alleged that a ‘gang of five’ has been looting Odisha as the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has virtually become the epicentre of corruption.

Alleging that officers of the CMO are involved in corruption, Panigrahi claimed that major scam has taken place the recruitment of chairpersons and members of OPSC and OSSC.

Amid speculations about the possibility of Panigrahi joining the BJP, the legislator told media that a scam had surfaced in constable recruitment in 2002-2003 and allegations were made against senior officers at that time.

A probe was also launched into the matter, but no action was taken against anyone, he claimed, adding that the law is not taking its own course in the state as the government is adopting ‘double standards.’

No action is being taken against BJD leaders figuring in vigilance charge sheets and for involvement in Crime Branch cases, the lawmaker alleged.

Though the Chief Minister always claims that law will take its own course, rules are twisted for vested interest, Panigrahi alleged.

The lawmaker also raised questions over the source of fund received by BJD and claimed that Rs 622 crore has been deposited as party funds during 2017-2022. Odisha is a poor state, but BJD has received the second-highest funding and people should know the source, he said.

Regarding speculations about his joining BJP, Panigrahi said he is yet to take any decision. He wondered as to how BJD leaders are making claims on the issue.

Refuting the allegations, senior BJD leader R C Chyau Patnaik said the Chief Minister always believes in transparency and honesty. The Chief Minister has always taken appropriate action as per law against corrupt officials, he said.

Hitting out at Panigrahi for criticising the CM, he said the expelled leader should remember that he had become a Minister because of Naveen Patnaik’s blessings.

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