HOOCH TRAGEDY RECURS

ORISSA CM JETTISONS EXCISE MINISTER; OPPOSITION ASKS HIM TO QUIT

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik got the first glimpse of political reality in his home district of Ganjam when people, known as his supporters so far, raised sharp slogans against him on April 24 during his visit to Golabandha, where hooch has taken away 12 lives two days ago. It was a repetition of the tragedy that had killed 32 persons and maimed around 50 in the same district in the month of March.

Orissa Assembly then in session, the Opposition had stalled the proceedings over its demand for resignation of the Excise Minister under whose umbrage the liquor mafia was supposedly operating. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had provoked the Opposition to boycott the Assembly by showing his steadfast support to the Excise Minister.

But the second major tragedy in the succeeding month in his home district moving the needle of suspicion to his direction as people wondered if he has any role in protecting the hooch operators, Naveen Patnaik had no other way than asking the Excise Minister to resign. Accordingly, Kalandi Behera rendered his resignation in the afternoon of 25th April.

Even as stalwarts of the ruling combine are stunned at the turn of events, Leader of Opposition Mr. J.B.Pattanaik has stated that had the CM accepted the Opposition demand to drop the Excise Minister after the March tragedy, the House could have run properly and the hooch operators might have not dared to continue their crime and the fresh tragedy would not have happened.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra has stressed on resignation of the Chief Minister himself, as according to him, without his protection, the hooch operators could never have been so active in the home district of the highest political executive of the State.

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