Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday asked the Odisha government to request the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax Department for a probe into the cash seized in by-poll-bound Bijepur Assembly segment. Pradhan said this referring to the BJD’s allegation that the cash seized by police from Bijepur on Saturday night, was meant for electoral benefits of the BJP candidate. The ruling BJD also claimed that the persons arrested in the cash recovery case, were VHP and BJP members. “If the BJD claims that the cash seized by the police belongs to the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the prime accused in this case would be none other than the BJD Rajya Sabha member, Prasanna Acharya.
“Everyone, including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik knows the RSS background of Prasanna Acharya. Hence to cover-up the issue, the BJD has launched a vilification campaign against the BJP,” Pradhan told reporters here.
Police had seized Rs 40.5 lakh from Padmapur area under the Bijepur assembly segment where by-poll is scheduled to be held on February 24. Two people have been arrested in connection with the cash recovery.
“As the BJD is in power in the state, let it ask the ED and the Income Tax Department through electronic mail within half-an-hour for an investigation into the case to unravel the truth,” the Union minister said.
However, BJD spokesman P K Deb rejected Pradhan’s allegation and said the saffron party was trying its best to “malign” the BJD as it knows that it would lose the Bijepur bypoll. “The Union minister has demanded a probe into the case by the ED and Income Tax. The fact remains that both the ED and the Income Tax department are under the BJP-led government at the Centre. We accept his challenge. Let the ED and Income Tax officials probe into this case,” Deb said.
Deb also said that the BJD will welcome a probe by any independent police agency. Meanwhile, Prasanna Acharya said the BJD has already apprised the Election Commission of the incident and suggested that it can order an ED or Income Tax Department probe into it.