In a development that might have political implications, the vigilance police on Wednesday arrested Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) secretary general Jagneswar Babu for financial irregularities he allegedly committed when he was the chief of Odisha State Cooperative Bank.
After his arrest, Babu was sent to judicial custody for three days. Six other OSCB officials were arrested along with Babu.
Vigilance superintendent of police SS Mishra said that as the head of OSCB, Babu disbursed a loan of Rs. 36.24 crore to a cooperative sugar mill also headed by him without any security and floating NABARD guidelines. “The disbursement was done in 12 phases between 2009 and 2010 without clearance by the bank’s loan committee,” he said.
Pyarimohan Mohapatra , who floated OJM last month after being expelled from the ruling Biju Janata Dal on charge of plotting a coup against chief minister Naveen Patnaik, slammed the Odisha government for arresting Babu.
“It is a conspiracy hatched by the BJD to defame OJM as the ruling party is threatened by the latter’s growing popularity. We will legally fight the arbitrary action by the vigilance,” Mohapatra said.
Babu, a former general secretary of BJD, had joined ranks with Mohapatra after the latter formed OJM.
Senior BJD leader and Odisha health minister Damodar Rout said there was no political motive to Babu’s arrest. “Babu had indulged in financial irregularities by misusing his power when he was the OSBC chief,” he said.