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Why Equidistant Naveen Patnaik Shed Middle Ground, Sided With Mamata Banerjee in Fight Against CBI

The stand-off between Mamata Banerjee and the CBI has in more ways than one served as a uniting factor for the Opposition.

Updated:February 5, 2019, 10:15 PM IST
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik for the first time displayed an inclination towards the Opposition on Monday in the wake of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s dharna in Kolkata.

The stand-off between Mamata Banerjee and the CBI has in more ways than one served as a uniting factor for the Opposition.

Reacting to the controversy in Bengal, BJD said the conduct of CBI smacks of unprofessionalism. The statements came a day after the central investigation agency’s attempts to quiz Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, in connection with the chit fund scam, was thwarted by police.

The BJD, headed by Patnaik, has in the recent past claimed that it maintains equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP, and had also stayed away from the mahagathbandhan of non-NDA parties. It also did not participate in the mega opposition rally held in Kolkata last month.

But in its statement, BJD sides with Banerjee. "Institutional integrity of the CBI has to be restored. We are a mature democracy and professionalism should be maintained," it said.

Patnaik's party also pointed out that even in Odisha, sudden action by the CBI had come just before panchayat elections in the past.

"Now, before the general elections, the move smacks of unprofessional conduct and coloured with political motives," the BJD had said.

The BJD's statement apparently referred to the CBI's recent notice to two BJD MLAs and former ministers in connection with a chit fund case. Both the MLAs have said they will respond to the CBI notice.

The immediate reaction to the statements came from across parties in the state.

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) accused the BJD of ‘double standards’ alleging that the ruling party in Odisha, on one hand claims to have distanced from the ‘Mahagathbandhan,’ while on the other, it is taking sides with Mamata Banerjee on the CBI issue.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was also quick to train guns on Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik following Bhartruhari’s statements.

“Be it Mamata’s TMC or Naveen’s BJD, the leaders benefitted from the chit fund scam. The CBI is probing the chit fund scam based on Supreme Court order. Those who have looted people’s money will be punished,” said Pradhan.

“Several MPs and MLAs both in West Bengal and Odisha are involved and some of them have been arrested in the past,” said former Odisha DGP, Gopal Nanda.

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