Bhubaneswar, Sept. 12: The state government's alleged inaction in the egg attack on BJD MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda at Jatiparilo in Cuttack's Mahanga area on May 30 has turned into a political issue with the Lok Sabha member himself raking it up.
"No arrest has been made only in one incident- Hmm....because it also involved stones and brickbats?" Panda tweeted today, a day after chief minister Naveen Patnaik, in a written reply to a question from Rourkela's BJP MLA Dilip Ray in the Assembly, admitted that no arrests had so far been made in the incident involving Panda.
"Eighty-nine persons have been arrested in 15 egg-throwing incidents. No arrest has been made only in one incident so far when eggs were thrown at BJD MP Baijayant Panda at Jatiparilo in Cuttack district on May 30 this year," the chief minister had informed the House.
Between 2015 and 2017, there had been 16 incidents of egg pelting. Three cases of eggs hurling on Union ministers and BJP leaders and 13 against BJD leaders have been reported since January 2015.
Panda was pelted with eggs, stones and slippers during his visit to Jatiparilo, which falls in his constituency, to inaugurate a drinking water project on May 30. The issue had turned political following allegations that health and law minister Pratap Jena was behind the incident.
Opposition leaders also targeted the government on the issue and accused the chief minister's office of having a role in it. "As the attack on Panda was made at the instance of the third floor (chief minister's) office, no arrest has been made so far. Had this not been the case, the police would have initiated action by now. Panda has fallen victim to a conspiracy," BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit said.
Congress MLA Prakash Chandra Behera said: "In the case of attack on Panda, the chief minister, law minister and the ruling party were involved. This has been proved again by the chief minister's statement. This is the reason why no action has been taken."
However, BJD Rajya Sabha member Pratap Deb sprung to the defence of the government, dismissing the conspiracy angle. "There is no political conspiracy. Panda is our MP. So far I know, first Panda was reluctant to lodge an FIR in the matter. Later, the police initiated action. The chief minister has mentioned everything in his reply."
Curiously, the probe report of minister Usha Devi, who had conducted an inquiry into the incident on behalf of the BJD at the instance of the chief minister, is yet to be made public.
The BJD has also not initiated any action against anyone in this connection so far.
The attack on Panda had divided the BJD. While senior minister Damodar Rout had condemned the incident in its immediate wake, his cabinet colleague Surya Narayan Patro had wondered why Panda did not file an FIR if he wanted the police to take action. "He is the victim. He is making statements in the media. What prevents him from lodging a complaint," Patro had asked.
On the other hand, Panda had expressed himself through tweets with one of them saying: "Curious 2c how law takes its own course."
He refused to lodge an FIR, asserting that the incident had taken place in full public view and should automatically be taken note of by party leadership.