Expelled BJD MLA Pradeep Panigrahy stayed at luxury hotels in Delhi and Mumbai that cost as much as Rs 2.71 lakh a day and had spent about Rs 84 lakh while staying in Hotel Taj in Mumbai during lockdown, investigators probing the disproportionate assets case of senior Indian Forest Service officer Abhay Pathak said.
Panigrahy, who was expelled from BJD on Sunday for “anti-people activities” is under the scanner of both vigilance department as well as state CID over his suspected financial transactions with the tainted IFS officer as well as in the job scam in which several youths of Gopalpur were allegedly defrauded in the false promise of getting employment in of Tata Motors. Abhay Pathak’s son Akash had allegedly conned several youths by promising them jobs in Tata Motors.
Vigilance officials who raided the house of the IFS officer again on Tuesday said they were trying to find out if the officer had any illegal financial transaction with the MLA. Pathak has been accused of amassing Rs 9.3 crore of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The Biju Janata Dal has accused Panigrahy of flying in chartered planes and enjoying luxurious accommodations in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Pune when the Covid-19 situation was grave in Ganjam district.
“He was cheating people of his own constituency and taking bribes promising the unemployed youth to provide them jobs through Akash Pathak. He also broke people’s trust by leading a lavish lifestyle while people of Ganjam suffered during Covid. That’s why Naveen Patnaik took the strongest action against him,” said BJD spokesman Lenin Mohanty.
“CM consciously used the word anti-people as Panigrahy was like Nero playing music when the whole Rome was burning. It is a very insensitive inhuman display of power and arrogance that is characteristic of an anti-people attitude by Pradeep Panigrahy,” Mohanty said.
A defiant Panigrahy asked why the government did not stop him when he travelled in chartered flights during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Why now? I have travelled with due permission of DGCA and AAI. There is nothing wrong in it,” he said.
Panigrahy alleged he was being made scapegoat to divert public attention from issues like the murder case of a 5-year-old girl in Nayagarh and famers’ suicide. “There is no official complaint registered against me. Yet police are picking my relatives and family members at midnight and using third degree torture in order to coerce them to lodge FIR against me,” he said.
Panigrahy said he has written a letter to Naveen Patnaik in which he has accused police of torturing his relatives and forcing them to give statements against him.
“Government is misusing its agencies to harass me and my family members. I don’t know whether the CM knows about these motivated conspiracies against me. However, I tried to reach out to Naveen Patnaik through phone call, but they didn’t allow me to talk to him. I urge the media to stop ‘media trial’ against me. I still trust the Chief Minister. He had affections towards me. I just want to know if he is aware of the harassments I have been facing,” he said.