BHUBANESWAR: The ruling BJD announcing a Rs 300 crore corpus fund to help victims of the mega chit fund scam has raised several eyebrows, with the opposition dubbing it as an 'election gimmick' and reiterating its demand for a CBI probe to unravel the truth.
"Whose paap (sin) does the chief minister want to wash by committing Rs 300 crore relief? What kind of a prayashita (atonement) is this?" asked Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Jayadev Jena.
The Congress leader said the government's decision to set up a corpus fund was aimed at the next elections slated for 2014. "The corpus fund is clearly intended at protecting the BJD MLAs and ministers, who are involved in the multic-crore deposit collection scam. Instead of exposing and punishing them, the BJD is using taxpayers' money to shield them," he told TOI.
Jena further questioned the government's decision to appoint retired high court judge R K Patra to head a one-man judicial inquiry into the scam. "When the Supreme Court had ruled that sitting high court judge cannot head a judicial commission, why did the government announce it? And now why has it decided on a retired judge? Clearly, the government wanted to delay the process to deny justice to victims. The government should recommend a CBI inquiry into the fraud," he added.
Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik wondered how Rs 300 crore can compensate a scam that is being estimated at Rs 10,000 crore and sought setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) under judicial supervision to inquire into the fraud. "Ministers and BJD leaders, who have received favours from these fraudsters, should be sacked. This is a matter of public morality and persons responsible directly or indirectly for such squandering of money belonging to small depositors must be named and shamed to cleanse public life and restore faith of the people in the efficacy of rule of law," he said in a statement.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's announcement on Tuesday has almost created a flutter in the official circles. "Though parties in power announce sops for different sections ahead of polls, the BJD is crossing limits in committing public money. This way, development projects would take a backseat and only those schemes which are aimed at wooing the electorate could be implemented," a bureaucrat, wishing not to be named, observed.