Former Union steel minister Braja Kishore Tripathy on Tuesday alleged that the ruling Biju Janata Dal had transferred Rs 45 lakh from its official bank account to arrested Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda in 2014.
Speaking to reporters, Tripathy, who resigned from the BJD on the eve of Lok Sabha polls in 2009, alleged that in April 2014 an amount of Rs 45 lakh was transferred from the BJD’s SBI account No. 10091755246 to Panda’s ICICI Bank account No. 203601501728 through cheque No. 441630.
“While BJD and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik continue to demand more funds from the Centre to fight Maoists, I am surprised how money was transferred from the BJD party’s bank account to that of Panda. The party’s bank account operates in the CM’s name, who is also the BJD president. This clearly shows that the CM has patronised Maoists, who have now spread their wings to 18 out of 30 districts of the state. The CM has utilised Maoists for his party’s electoral and political gains,” Tripathy alleged.
Tripathy also alleged that a day before the Rs 45 lakh was transferred, an amount of Rs 1 lakh was transferred from Panda’s account to the BJD account. And in June 2014, Rs 5 lakh was transferred to Panda’s bank account through RTGS from a BJD leader’s account.
Tripathy went on to allege that in May, money was transferred from Panda’s account to a relative of state Higher Education Minister Pradip Panigrahy, a Naveen loyalist. Tripathy said he has written to the PMO and Union home ministry about the financial transactions and seeking an inquiry.
While Panigrahy did not take calls, BJD MLA and party spokesman Amar Satpathy rubbished the allegations. “The BJD has always tried to bring Maoists into the mainstream. But the allegation of financial transaction with Maoists is not correct. These allegations are baseless,” he said.
Panda’s wife Mili Panda said her husband has no bank account.
Panda, once Orissa’s most-wanted Maoist leader and main accused in the murder case of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, was arrested in July 2014 from Berhampur town. In his 50s, Panda, who once had a Rs 20 lakh reward on his head, was expelled by CPI(Maoist) in 2013. He has over 100 cases against him since 1999, when he first came on the police radar after attacking a police outpost in Rayagada district.
In March 2012, Koraput-based pro-Maoist outfit Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) helped the BJD clinch the post of zilla parishad president. With Congress and BJD tied at 14 seats each in the 29-member Koraput Zilla Parishad in the panchayat polls, the CMAS-backed zilla parishad member Zuro Mouka, who was acquitted in a case of Maoist violence in 2010, voted for the BJD. In 2013, The Indian Express had reported about how police in Koraput district seized papers showing exchange of letters between Maoist leader Ghasi and then Koraput BJD MP Jayram Pangi, Koraput BJD MLA Raghuram Padal, and Pottangi Congress MLA Ramachandra Kadam.