The police in Orissa have formed four teams to trace state legislator Ramesh Rout who has been missing since June 20, officials said on Friday.
Rout, an independent legislator from Athgarh constituency in Cuttack district, went missing after submitting his resignation letter to assembly Speaker Pradip Amat on June 20.
Although Amat has not yet accepted his resignation, Rout's sudden disappearance has become a matter of intense political debate in the state.
"We have formed four teams and already begun a search after Bhaskar Rout, his father, informed us on Thursday about him having gone missing," District Superintendent of Police (rural) Rajat Mishra told IANS.
"We have sent experienced police officers to different places including Kolkata, Berhampur and Rourkela to locate him. We are also questioning people close to him," he said.
Rout, 39, was elected to the assembly with the support of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the 2009 election. The BJD supported him after the nomination papers of its official candidate, Ranendra Pratap Swain, were rejected by the returning officer.
Swain, a former state minister and senior BJD leader, had held the seat for four consecutive terms. Although Rout had the support of the BJD and won the polls, he did not take part in the proceedings of the house.
After submitting his resignation to the speaker Rout had told reporters that he was stepping down to pave the way for Swain.
"Swain is more capable and people of the constituency want him," Rout had said.
Rout's disappearance came to light after media personnel tried to contact him after he submitted his resignation. A section of the media even hinted that he may have resigned under duress.
This led the speaker to issue a notice to Rout last week asking him to appear in person before him on July 6 and explain whether he had submitted his resignation voluntarily or under pressure.
"We have communicated the order of the speaker to his father. We are also trying to locate him so that the notice can be served on him," the police officer said.