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Orissa minister quits over criminal links

Orissa's water resources minister Rabi Narayan Nanda on Thursday resigned following allegations of his links with the liquor mafia.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 02:07 IST

Orissa's water resources minister Rabi Narayan Nanda on Thursday resigned following allegations of his links with the liquor mafia in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state.

A judicial commission headed by judge Mahendra Nath Patnaik that probed the death of 20 people who consumed spurious liquor in Orissa's Puri district in 2001 had indicted Nanda for his relationship with a liquor baron of Chhattisgarh.

In its report to the state government, the commission had said several calls were made from the phone at Nanda's official residence to liquor baron's Siris Jaltara's mobile phone.

Though the probe report has not yet been made public, Congress leader Narasingha Mishra on Wednesday placed it in the assembly with the speaker's permission.

Subsequently, Nanda allegedly offered a bribe to Congress legislator Lalatendu Mohapatra and requested him not to raise the matter in the ongoing assembly session.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked Nanda to quit after Mohapatra produced audio evidence before assembly Speaker Maheswar Mohanty of the minister's alleged attempt to bribe him, officials said.

Nanda, however, denied the allegations and told reporters that he had resigned to pave the way for an impartial probe.

First Published: Mar 24, 2006 02:07 IST