| Naveen Patnaik and Sarada Prasad Nayak
Bhubaneswar, June 5: On a day when vigilance raids against a mine owner triggered suspicions that big business had bankrolled the coup attempt against chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the BJD got a shot in the arm with all the four NCP MLAs in the state joining the party.
Raids were conducted at the residential and business premises of K.J.S.Ahluwalia, the owner of M/S Ahluwalia engaged in mining in Sundergarh and Keonjhar districts. He also owns a sponge iron unit in Sundergarh.
Sambalpur vigilance SP Manoranjan Panda said that simultaneous raids had been conducted against Ahluwalia at Rourkela, Joda and Keonjhar. Raids also continued against Surendra Dua, another business magnate of Rourkela whose plush hotel in the city had been searched yesterday by vigilance sleuths in the wake of reports that it was the venue of a meeting organised by BJD rebels to fund the coup attempt.
Dua, said sources, also owns one of the biggest car showrooms in the steel city apart from a sponge iron factory in Sundergarh district. The role of both Dua and Ahluwalia has become suspect because of their alleged closeness to Rourkela MLA Sarada Prasad Nayak, who was sacked as housing and urban development minister yesterday following allegations of his involvement in the failed coup.
Panda, however, claimed that there was nothing political about the raids which he described as routine. “This is a raid concerning sales tax evasion and we are also looking into other irregularities,” he said. That notwithstanding, the cloud of suspicion continues to hang over the two businessmen given their proximity to Nayak whose effigies were burnt in Rourkela today by the loyalists of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Yesterday, rival factions of the BJD had clashed in the city leading to police intervention.
The issue of mining mafia having played a role in the coup attempt against the chief minister had been raised by BJD MLA Subarna Nayak in the immediate wake of the rebellion.
The MLA had alleged that around Rs 200 crore had been raised with the help of a few mine owners to ensure the success of the coup.
Later, former agricuture minister Damodar Rout had reportedly handed over to the chief minister a letter giving details of the Rourkela meeting which sealed the fate of minister Sarada Nayak.
On the other hand, the BJD got a shot in the arm with all the four NCP MLAs today joining the party at Naveen Nivas here in the presence of Naveen. The MLAs — Amar Prasad Satpathy, Nabin Nanda, Prashant Nanda and Ramchandra Hansda — said that they had joined the ruling party without any conditions. This raises the strength of BJD in the state assembly to 108 from the present 104.
Naveen loyalists, however, continued their campaign to garner support in his favour with collection of signature from party leaders at certain places.