Bhubaneswar: Probity in public life is the cornerstone of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s government. A high standard of conduct that the society expects from the elected representatives is a must and any deviation from that will attract immediate and appropriate action. The expulsion of Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Remuna MLA Sudhansu Sekhar Parida is an example of this. It is very rare to see in Indian polity that a political party takes such an extreme step against its own sitting MLAs who do not comply to the standards. By expelling them, party supremo Naveen Patnaik has sounded that he does not give any space to corruption and actions that are detrimental to the welfare of the people. Also, the swiftness with which the decisions are taken shows that the CM does not tolerate any type of impropriety against the principles of integrity in public life. Whoever does that will have to face the consequences.
What differentiates Naveen from other politicians of the country is his swift actions against indiscipline or corruption in his government. This is not the only instance where he has acted against a senior leader. Pradip Panigrahy, the Gopalpur MLA against whom serious fraud allegations were brought was also shown the door from the party. Senior IFS officer Abhaya Kant Pathak, was also removed from his post and was later arrested with relation to the Tata Company jobs for money case. The dismissal of senior IAS Officer Vinod Kumar, who has been convicted in multiple corruption charges, is one of several such examples where the government has acted tough. In 2020, Naveen expelled tainted leader Anup Sai from the party and removed him from the chairman of Odisha State Warehousing Corporation as soon as the news of Sai’s arrest broke.
CM Naveen has been particular about the accountability factor and has been taking strong steps against corruption and doubtful integrity. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, the Khandapada MLA, is accused of defrauding his own employees through forged loans. A case has also been filed against him and his company Sambad in this regard by the Economic Offences Wing. He is also accused of involvement in a serious case of organized bank fraud involving loans worth crores of Rupees taken in the name of more than 300 employees.
Another notable decision is the expulsion of Remuna MLA Sudhansu Sekhar Parida who is accused of siphoning of government subsidy meant for farmers. when he was the Managing Partner of M/s Nigamananda Associates, in connivance with others, he misappropriated government subsidy, meant for farmers, of more than Rs.3 crores between 2017 and 2020. This matter is being inquired into by the State Vigilance on the orders of the Lokayukta.
During the more than two decades of his political career, Naveen has taken action against many leaders and senior officials also. In the political sphere also, Naveen has taken many bold decisions that surprised many. But they were taken when there were serious questions raised about their integrity. Ensuring accountability within the party is crucial. The expulsion of the Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Remuna MLA Sudhansu Sekhar Parida sends a stern message that the Biju Janata Dal supremo is committed to serving the people’s interests.
In the last 23 years as Chief Minister Naveen has taken action against more than 40 ministers. In 2001, even three ministers were removed from cabinet on alleged corruption charges.
In order to cleanse the administration of corruption, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been taking strict action against officials who are being found involved in corruption. The State Vigilance Department has been taking stringent action against the officials from the top to bottom. Every year, action against around 300 officials are being taken by the Odisha Vigilance Department. Latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau also states that Odisha remains the leader in the area of detection and registration of disproportionate assets cases.
The Odisha Government has adopted a Zero Tolerance approach to corruption. The proactive steps like 5T Initiatives and Mo Sarkar have become the harbinger of good governance in the country.