Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday dared the police administration of Bargarh district to refer the seizure of Rs 40 lakh to the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax to ascertain whose money it was and who was carrying it. It is despicable that without proper investigation, the police has said the money was carried by BJP, VHP activists for bypoll bound Bijepur, he said.
Pradhan said it takes minutes to lodge the complaint with the The Directorate of Enforcement. The Superintendent of Police of Bargarh district, if he has the guts, should do so. Instead, the SDPO of the area Laxminarayan Panda acted as a agent of the ruling BJD and reported that Om Prakash Agrawal and Akash Agrawal who were travelling in the car with Rs 40 lakh are BJP, VHP activists, noted Pradhan.
Let the ED and IT track the money trail, he said while alleging that with defeat staring on its face, the ruling BJD, was resorting to such tactics. Pradhan chided that ruling BJD leader Prasanna Acharya is a former RSS man and there are many in the BJD who are RSS people.
The ruling BJD spokesperson and MP Mr Pratap Deb hit back immediately saying ED and IT were central agencies and Pradhan could use his good offices to ask them to investigate the 40 lakh case. The Union Minister should be aware that during elections, central observers are in place and are monitoring every aspect, he quipped.
As the war of words between the BJP and BJD mounted, Pradhan held election campaign meetings at Bijepur on Monday and said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should tell people of the constituency when he comes to seek votes on Tuesday why he had failed to provide drinking water to people in the area for 18 years and why irrigation facilities are not there.
The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik must also answer why farmers of the region had committed suicide, said Pradhan. The BJP leader also wanted the Election Commission to keep a tab on the expenditure involved during the Chief Minister’s two day campaign in Bijepur.
It may be noted that the Padmapur police in Bargarh district had seized the cash from a SUV near Mahulapalli on Sunday. Earlier on 14 February, the Gaisilat police had also seized Rs 3.2 lakh from two cars at Talpali Square of the poll-bound district.