Uproar in Odisha Assembly over 'sextortion' case, Oppn demands CM's resignation
Bhubaneswar, Nov 24 (PTI) An uproar was witnessed in the Odisha Assembly on the first day of the winter session on Tuesday, with the Opposition demanding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's resignation for "remaining silent" over the alleged sextortion case.
The issue was raised by Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra when the House re-assembled for session in the afternoon after remaining closed for half-day in honour of the deceased former members.
Both the opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, separately demanded Patnaik's resignation on moral grounds as he did not respond to allegations that several of his MLAs and ministers were in close association with alleged woman blackmailer Archana Nag, who has been arrested by the police in October on the charge of blackmailing rich and influential people through 'sextortion'.
While Nag and her husband Jagabandhu Chand were arrested by the Odisha Police, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) nabbed their close associate Khageswar Patra and interrogated several people after registering a money laundering case.
Mishra alleged that while the police did not proceed with investigation after arresting the couple, the ED nabbed their associate and also interrogated several people in this connection. The couple had allegedly amassed properties worth about Rs 30 crore during a span of only four years from 2018 to 2022.
"The investigation by the ED is on the right track. The central agency has questioned and arrested those who were spared by Odisha Police earlier, proving that the police are hand-in-glove with the criminals," Mishra said.
He demanded the resignation of the chief minister, who is also the in-charge of the home department, alleging inaction by the police in this connection.
Outside the House, the Congress leader said, "The ED is stated to have extracted valuable information about the racket from the arrested persons. The SIT on black money has also sought a report and is said to have asked the Income Tax department to look into the matter, but the chief minister has turned a mute spectator to the whole episode." "It appears that he wants to protect those involved in the racket, while police are also not conducting a proper probe," Mishra said.
Opposition chief whip and BJP leader Mohan Majhi also demanded Patnaik's resignation and alleged that several senior leaders of the ruling party were linked to the blackmailing racket.
"The silence of the chief minister is pointing at the BJD leaders' involvement in the case. So, the CM should resign from his position without any delay," Majhi said.
Majhi also demanded a ruling from the Speaker to the chief minister to inform the House about the role of the police and the ruling party members in the racket, "which has brought shame to the entire state".
When reporters outside the House asked Tourism Minister Ashiwini Patra on the BJD's stand over the issue over which the Opposition has demanded the CM's resignation, he said he didn't want to comment.
Meanwhile, ED's counsel Gopal Agarwal said the central investigation agency has moved a production petition before the district judge court here seeking the presence of Archana Nag and her husband Jagabandhu Chand.
Earlier during the day, businessman and Dhenkanal MLA Sudhir Samal’s brother Gangadhar Samal was also interrogated by the ED after it was alleged that he paid Rs 30 lakh to Archana Nag.
So far, the ED has interrogated Archana’s former associate Shradhanjali Behera for about 12 hours and film producer Akshay Parija on Wednesday.
Parija had lodged a complaint against Archana, alleging that she had demanded Rs 3 crore from him by threatening to release pictures and videos of his intimate moments. Archana had reportedly used Shradhanjali to trap Parija. PTI AAM ACD ACD