Bhubaneswar: Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) appeared to be a divided house following suspension of senior leader Pravat Tripathy, who was arrested by the CBI in connection with a multi-thousand-crore-rupee chit-fund scam.
Tripathy, a founding member of the BJD and a sitting legislator, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday for his alleged links with AT Group, a chit fund company.
A court Saturday remanded Tripathy in CBI custody till Nov 13.
Following the arrest, BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik suspended Tripathy from the party.
Patnaik's move did not go down well with some senior BJD leaders and they openly expressed their dissatisfaction. BJD Parliamentary party leader Bhartruhari Mahtab denounced Patnaik's move and came out in defence of Tripahty.
Mahtab described the suspension as "unjustified" and "illogical".
"There was absolutely no logic behind the action taken against Tripahty. He has done a lot for our party as well for the state. A person cannot be suspended from the party just because he was arrested by CBI," said Mahtab.
"All I can say is that the suspension was not justified," he added.
However, some BJD leaders refused to buy Mahtab's view and said any leader dissatisfied with the decision should air his view before the party forum instead of going to the media. They also said that the scam has tarnished the party's image.
BJD spokesperson Amar Satpahty said: "Mahtab should have aired his views at the appropriate party forum, instead of going to the media. It will create a different atmosphere in the party."
Besides, he said anyone found guilty in the chit-fund scam will be punished as per the law.
Another BJD spokesman, Samir Dash said: "That is Mahtab's personal opinion. The party has nothing to do with it. We all hope that Pravat babu (Tripahty) comes out clean since he has been denying his involvement."
He said after the CBI and the Odisha High Court felt that there was prima facie evidence against Tripahty, the BJD president had no other option but to act against him.
The CBI had already interrogated BJD MP Ramchandra Hansdah and former legislator Subarna Naik for their alleged link with Nabadigant Capital Service Limited, another chit-fund company in the state.
Both the BJD leaders were directors of the company. Former BJP legislator Hitesh Bagarti was also a director in the company.
The CBI has arrested CMD and two directors of the company, which has allegedly cheated thousands of depositors in the state.