Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik on Thursday expelled MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from the party after he was named in a bank loan fraud case by police.
The ouster came against the backdrop of allegations by Soumya’s family that he was being targeted for editorials in Sambad, the largest circulated Odia daily.
Soumya is the editor and the owner of Sambad whose editorials were critical of the BJD and the chief minister’s private secretary V.K. Pandian. The editorials slammed Pandian for allegedly exercising influence beyond his official position and travelling by helicopter.
On September 12, the BJD had removed Soumya from the post of vice-president in the party without citing any reason. Besides Soumya, Naveen on Thursday expelled another MLA also for alleged involvement in corruption.
Naveen told reporters: “Two MLAs are being expelled from the Biju Janata Dal. The first is Sudhansu Parida, the MLA of Remuna, and the second is Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, the MLA of Khandapara. You will be getting a detailed press release about this very soon.”
A press release signed by Naveen said: “On an FIR by an ex-employee of Sambad newspaper a case under section 506, 467, 468, 471, 420 and 120-B IPC has been registered against him and others by Economic Offences Wing (EOW) Odisha. Further many employees of Sambad newspaper have made similar allegations with EOW Odisha. It is a serious case of bank fraud involving loan worth crore of rupees taken in the name of more than 300 employees of Sambad by using fraudulent means and forged documents.”
Earlier, Soumya’s daughter Tanaya Patnaik had alleged her family was being targeted for questioning Pandian’s style of functioning. She alleged that the government had stopped giving advertisements to the newspaper.
Soumya is the chairman of Eastern Media Ltd (EML) which runs Sambad, Kanaka TV and Radio Chocolate. He is the son-in-law of former chief minister J.B. Patnaik.
A former EML employee had alleged that the firm had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh in his name in 2009 and another of the same amount in 2015 by forcing him to give consent. On September 18, the EOW of the Crime Branch of Odisha police raided the Sambad office and seized documents.