Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar


Pradeep Panigrahy was arrested last week for his alleged involvement in a job scam. (HT PHOTO)

 
 
 
 

 

Former Odisha minister Pradeep Panigrahy is likely to face more trouble after the state government recommended a probe by the Lokayukta into the charges of corruption against him.

This is the first corruption allegation referred by the state government to the Lokayukta after the anti-corruption Ombudsman was created in Odisha a little more than a year ago.

“The government led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik is known for its strong action against corruption in public life and committed to provide a transparent administration to the people of Odisha,” the Chief Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Panigrahy, who was arrested by the state CID last week on charges of cheating, forgery and conspiracy had allegedly conspired with his would-be son-in-law Akash Pathak to dupe several youths in Ganjam district. Pathak and Panigrahy had allegedly taken Rs 6 lakh each from around 120 job aspirants by promising them jobs in Tata Motors. They had taken money from the job aspirants with the promise to engage them as Engineering and Management trainees in Tata Motors with a salary ranging from Rs 7 to 8 lakh per annum.

Pathak, who had projected himself as the Managing Director of Tata motors, was to marry Panigrahy’s daughter on December 11 in a palace hotel of Udaipur. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Panigrahy had allegedly flown in chartered planes with the Pathak family to various places in the country and stayed in expensive hotels.

The 56-year-old Panigrahy who was the blue-eyed boy of chief minister Naveen Patnaik not long ago, had lost his access to the CM, whose assembly constituency Hinjili he looked after for almost 10 years. Last week, he was expelled from the primary membership of BJD after his links with suspended IFS officer Abhay Kanta Pathak and his son Akash was revealed. The IFS officer is now in jail in a disproportionate assets case.

Panigrahy’s woes also may mount after the court of additional district judge in Bhubaneswar rejected his bail petition on Monday. The MLA who has been sent in judicial custody for 14 days by the order of the SDJM’s court, had moved the Khurda District and Sessions Court for bail.