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Pradhan accuses Patnaik of suppressing facts in his nomination


Press Trust of India Bhubaneswar
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday accused Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of suppressing facts in his nomination for the coming Assembly polls in the state.
There are reports that Patnaik was interrogated by CBI in November 2017 in connection with the allotment of a coal block to a "ghost company" when he was in charge of the coal ministry at the Centre, but the BJD president did not mention it in his nominations for both Hinjili and Bijepur assembly seats, Pradhan alleged.
Hitting out at Patnaik over his role in the coal block allocation during his tenure as union minister for steel and mines, Pradhan said a Nagpur-based company which was registered in January, 1999 was allotted a coal block on April 3, 1998.
People should know as to what interest the chief minister had in alloting a coal block to a company when it was yet to be registered, Pradhan told newsmen.
A case was registered in March, 2014 and it has come to light that CBI had interrogated Patnaik on November 25, 2017. "But the BJD president is trying to hide it," he said.
"The chief minister must tell the 4.5 crore people of Odisha whether the CBI had interrogated him ... And why he failed to mention it in the nomination papers he filed for the assembly polls," Pradhan said.
Patnaik, who is seeking re-election for the fifth consecutive term, is contesting from two assembly seats for the first time. He will be a candiadte from his home turf of Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh district.
Election to the Odisha assembly will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Strongly reacting to the allegation, a BJD spokesperson said Pradhan is raking up the 21-year-old coal block allocation issue before the elections in a desperate bid to deflect public opinion which is against him and his party and from the fact that the BJP is falling apart all around him.
"The speed and intensity with which the BJP is breaking and getting decimated in Odisha has led Pradhan to become anxious," he said.
Claiming that BJP leaders who have worked for the party for 30-40 years are leaving the party and personally attacking Pradhan, the BJD spokesperson said Pradhan is ndulging in lies in a bid to save his face".
Moreover Pradhan should remember that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister when Patnaik held charge of the coal ministry. "By his insinuations does he want to say that Atalji was corrupt or he tolerated corruption in his cabinet," the spokesperson said and urged the union minister to refrain from attempts to tarnish the image of the chief minister.
Pradhan further alleged that the state police, chief minister's grievance cell and special task force are being engaged by the ruling BJD in political works in gross violation of model code of conduct.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 9:20 PM IST

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