Chit Fund Felony: Enquiries should begin with Investigation into Role of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

“Huge amounts are raised at the time of elections from big mine-owners and other rich businessmen for which no detailed accounts are kept. The persons, who raise such contributions on behalf of the party, distribute amounts to different candidates and keep a portion of the funds raised for their own institutions or their own factions and also appropriate a portion for their own selves. …………… As the businessmen have to pay taxes, they do not show these amounts to the Income Tax department. ………………….. The top experienced leaders of the party indicate the manner in which the big businessmen are to be compensated by making profits in other ways in return for the big amounts they pay as contributions to the Election Funds and other party expenses.”

This is what late Nabakrushna Chowdhury, Orissa’s legendary freedom fighter and a true Gandhian to ever have become a Chief Minister, had told the public at Balasore on July 14, 1963 when the State was in the grip of Biju Patnaik.

Biju, who had occupied the Chief Minister post by corrupting the people with money and false promises like ‘Fire-proof roof over every head’, had to get out of power most unceremoniously, as Mr. Chowdhury’s frank public allegation had led to unprecedented public protests against his continuance as Chief Minister.

To people of Orissa it appeared that Biju Patnaik and probity in political life were poles apart.

Under insurmountable force of public outcry, specifically after Orissa’s then Leader of Opposition R. N. Singhdeo submitted a well documented memorandum demanding an investigation into acts of corruption committed by Biju Patnaik in the chief minister chair, the Central Government had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the said allegations.

The CBI had submitted its report on 15 November 1964 with the conclusion that, “It is not possible to say that all the allegations are unfounded, unsubstantiated or untrue”.

These words of the CBI Director makes it clear that there was pressure, obviously from the Prime Minister (as the investigation was ordered by Home Minister Guljarilal Nanda known as a crusader against corruption) to say that the allegations against Biju were “unfounded, unsubstantiated, and untrue”; for which alone, the CBI had to use the words “it is not possible to say” so. It was clear that Biju had misused his position as Chief Minister for personal benefit.

The same syndrome of misusing position to grab money is also conspicuous in conduct of his son Naveen, who, as chief Minister, has made the administration so corrupt that the CBI, after long 50 years of its first penetration into Orissa affairs, is again in the job of investigation into offenses against the people in Orissa.

Its foray into castles of only one segment of offenders – the chit fund cheats – provokes this posting.

We were suspecting that the offenders might be the front men of someone who controls administration, as otherwise, this monstrous offense could not have continued with such sense of security the offenders are marked to have having.

Senior minister Dr. Damodar Raut has made us convinced that, none but the Chief Minister himself could be that man.

Dr. Raut is the first minister to have come out with unambiguous information that chit fund fraud Prasant Das of Sea Shore was enjoying government patronization so much so that eleven government hospitals were put under his charge for commercial exploitation, without the knowledge of the Health Minister. Unless Chief Minister is involved, bypassing the concerned minister, who under Rules of Business, is the Head of the Department, is not possible, under any plea.

The way the Chief Minister and his fellow ministers have bestowed upon Das their favors even after being warned by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs about economic offences being practiced by Sea Shore, makes us infer that like his father, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is also using his position to collect illicit money and fetch a profit out of politics.

In 1960s Biju was having nexus with big mine-owners and big businessmen, as per former CM Nabakrushna Chowdhury, to collect fund for investment in elections and for filling up personal coffers. The same method of having nexus with economic offenders, mines-owners, chit fund cheats is marked in Naveen’s regime too.

He has given grazing grounds to Chit Fund cheats, obviously for funds for winning elections.

We are increasingly inclined to suspect that Pradeep Sethy or Prasant Das and the likes are nothing but front men of Naveen, because of which the administration has eagerly and without objection, kept eyes closed to their felonies.

So the CBI enquiry, instead of beating about the bushes, should zoom in on Naveen Patnaik to find out wherefrom he gathers the hundreds of crores of Rupees he invests in running of his party specifically in electioneering, as money is the only power that fetches for him majority in the Assembly and the greater the amounts spent in electioneering the larger the number of seats he wins for his party.

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