Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said the involement of his partymen in the chit fund scam was of their induvidual volition, and would not affect the party.
There is fresh trouble for Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal in Odisha, thanks to the CBI investigations into the multi-crore chit fund scam case. One more BJD leader, Rabindra Kumar Jena, a Lok Sabha MP , was questioned by the CBI in Bhubaneshwar on Monday night. CBI sources say they are grilling him over his involvement in the multi-thousand crore Seashore Group chit fund scam, one of the many the CBI is investigating in the state.
Mr Jena, the MP from Balasore, is the sixth BJD leader to face heat from the CBI in the Ponzi scam. Two senior leaders, including sitting Lok Sabha MP from Mayurbhanj, Ramachandra Hansdah, and MLA and senior leader Pravat Tripathy have already been arrested.
After his questioning, Mr Jena spoke to mediapersons and said, "We had some business transactions with the Seashore Group. CBI had summoned me to clarify a few details regarding our transactions with the Ponzi firm, and we have submitted all related documents to them, and we had even some claims against Seashore group. The investigation is underway by the CBI. We want that the innocent investors get back their deposits from the Ponzi firm, and we should also get back our claims."
Before Mr Jena's questioning, the most direct link to Mr Patnaik's BJD in the massive scam was Mayurbhanj MP Rama Chandra Hansdah. In 2011, Mr Hansdah was one of the founding directors of Naba Diganta Capital Services Limited, a company now being investigated by the CBI for running illegal chit fund schemes. The MP says he had resigned from the company in December 2012, though the resignation was accepted only in 2013.
Questions have been raised , particularly by the opposition BJP ,on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's continued silence over the issue. The only time Mr Patnaik offered his views on the scam was during a visit to Delhi in November 2014, when he told the media, "I don't think it is a setback to BJD as they are individuals. The law will take its course."
But, a 2011 photograph shows Naveen Patnaik himself, with other top partymen, at the launch of a news channel - owned by the Seashore Group - along with its owner Prashant Das, who was arrested last year for allegedly running one of the biggest chit fund operations in the state. "A mere photograph or two does not prove complicity," said BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy.
The CBI is investigating over 30 companies in relation to the scam, that has robbed lakh of the state's poor of their lifetime savings. Many political connections have emerged in the CBI's investigations, with political leaders of all parties being questioned, and some even being arrested.