Release of audiotapes having evidence of alleged horse-trading during last year’s Rajya Sabha elections has snowballed into a major political controversy in Orissa, causing embarrassment to all the three major political parties – BJD, Congress and BJP.
While a local Oriya channel released audiotapes alleging that a Congress MLA received huge amount of payment to abstain from voting to favour BJD candidates, another channel made allegations that a senior BJP leader negotiated with Independent candidate Tararanjan Pattnaik to vote for him.
On the basis of the audiotapes’ expose, the Congress on Tuesday suspended an MLA for abstaining from voting during the elections, which were held in June 2010.
Majhi, along with two other party MLAs and another BJD MLA had abstained from voting in the elections, which enabled BJD leaders Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Sashi Bhusan Majhi and Baisnab Parida winning all the three Rajya Sabha seats for which elections were being held.
While BJP had suspended its MLA, Bhimsen Choudhury, after the election, the Congress had not taken any action against its MLAs.
The Congress party’s action against Majhi came within a week of release of the audiotapes in the local Kanak TV, which claimed that two ministers of states in the Naveen Patnaik government – Pushpendra Singh Deo and Atanu Sabyasachi – had negotiated with Majhi to make him abstain from voting. “There was sufficient evidence against Majhi. Action will also be taken against the two other MLAs,” Arya Kumar Gyanendra, PCC spokesperson Arya Kumar Gyanendra said.
Singh Deo and Sabyasachi said that the tapes were doctored. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik told media persons that he was looking into the whole matter.
However, BJP stood by its MLA, former minister Jayanarayan Mishra while reacting to release of audiotapes by local Etv channel that he negotiated with Independent Rajya Sabha candidate Tararanjan Patnaik for an amount of Rs60 lakhs to be paid to another party MLA Hitesh Bagarti.
Party president Jual Oram told HT that the allegation monetary transaction to BJP MLA is without any basis. He said that the BJP had decided to support Tararanjan Patnaik and issued whip to its MLAs accordingly. Five out of our six MLAs voted in the elections as per party wishes. “The one who refrained from voting was suspended from the party after the elections. So where was the question of horse-trading by BJP,” asked Oram.
Oram said that the second tape with allegations against BJP leaders was “organised” by the ruling party to divert attention from the serious expose against their ministers and party. “If the chief minister has guts, let him order a CBI probe into the whole matter to unearth the truth,” he said.