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Big guns chicken out over dinner

Bhubaneswar, Jan 21: It was a dinner that nobody ate.

The guest list for the birthday bash of IAS officer Priyabrata Patnaik at Bhubaneswar Club on January 17 read like a Whos Who of Orissa. If industry minister Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo was there, so was senior IAS officer and managing director of Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation Asit Tripathy. Also present at the party were Jaggi Mangat Panda, chief of Ortel Communications and wife of Rajya Sabha MP Baijayanta Panda. Three senior journalists also attended the do.

But everyone now seems to be chickening out after the uproar over alleged serving of Siberian waterfowls for dinner.

Singhdeo claimed he had not eaten the dinner. I had already taken my dinner. I was there for only half an hour. But to the best of my knowledge only tandoori chicken was served in the dinner, he said. Bureaucrat Asit Tripathy said he had left much before the dinner started. I have turned vegetarian since last two years. Besides, I have been a keen environmentalist. I have worked with Biswajit Mohanty in the Operation Kachhapa. I would have surely revolted if such a thing was served there, he said.

Despite best efforts by The

Telegraph, Panda was not available for comment. The club authorities have

already claimed that only `chicken meat' was served during the dinner.

As the self-denial continues among the VIPs, the probe ordered by the Naveen

Patnaik Government into the infamous birthday dinner may produce nothing.

Though Naveen ordered a probe by the chief wildlife warden into the

controversial dinner of senior IAS officer Priyabrata Patnaik, the probe could

be an `eyewash'. Informed sources in the government said that the probe order

may be part of the design to deflect the immediate public resentment.

``It would be one bureaucrat probing the wrongdoings of his higher-ups. The

results are all too well-known,'' sources said, alluding to the probe by chief

wildlife warden, an IFS officer. ``Only a central investigating agency can

unravel the truth behind the dinner.'' The chief minister's probe order came

following a media outcry over the letter from State Coordinator of Indian Bird

Conservation Network, Biswajit Mohanty to the chief minister demanding a CBI

probe.

Meanwhile, the Bhubaneswar Club have clamped down on Mohanty for blowing the

whistle on the bird poaching trade. The club authorities have barred Mohanty

from entering into the Club premises without citing any reason. Mohanty, who

is a member of the Cuttack Club, was availing the services of the Bhubaneswar

Club as part of a reciprocal arrangement till the incident occurred.

eom/debabrata.

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