A powerful minister just a fortnight ago, ruling Biju Janata Dal leader Raghunath Mohanty is making his party very uncomfortable, leaving chief minister Naveen Patnaik vulnerable to opposition attacks.
Mohanty — who resigned on March 15 as state law minister after his daughter-in-law lodged a dowry harassment complaint against him, his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law — has not been seen in public since then.
The state police Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) has arrested his son, but not managed to lay its hands on the 64-year-old leader and the other accused.
The opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have accused the government of helping Mohanty and his family members evade arrest.
The BJD, which till now was trying to distance itself from the issue, treating it a “family affair”, has realised any further delay in Mohanty’s arrest or surrender will dent the CM’s image and asked the former minister to surrender “in the interest of the party”.
“Mohanty is left with no legal option but to surrender or take anticipatory bail. It is for him to take a decision,” Prabhat Tripathy, the BJD’s chief whip in the assembly, said on Wednesday.
The Orissa high court has already rejected Mohanty’s petition seeking to quash the first information report against him and his family members.
Barsa Soni Choudhury, Mohanty’s daughter-in-law, had lodged the dowry harassment complaint in Balasore district town police station, about 200 km east of Bhubaneswar, on March 14.
Following a public outcry, Patnaik had transferred the case to the HRPC to “ensure a free and fair investigation”.