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Former Odisha Minister Arrested in Job Scam to Face Lokayukta Investigation


Former Odisha Minister Pradeep Panigrahy is likely to face more problems after the state government recommended that the Lokayukta investigate the corruption charges against him.

This is the first accusation of corruption referred by the state government to the Lokayukta after the Anti-Corruption Ombudsman was created in Odisha just over a year ago.

“The government headed by Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik is known for its strong action against corruption in public life and is committed to providing transparent administration to the people of Odisha,” the Chief Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Panigrahy, who was arrested by the state CID last week on charges of cheating, forgery and conspiracy, had allegedly conspired with his future son-in-law Akash Pathak to deceive several youths in the Ganjam district. Pathak and Panigrahy had allegedly taken Rs 6 lakh each from around 120 job applicants promising them jobs at Tata Motors. They had taken money from job applicants with the promise of hiring them as Engineering and Management trainees at Tata Motors with a salary ranging from Rs 7 to Rs 8 per year.

Pathak, who had projected himself as the Managing Director of Tata Motors, would marry Panigrahy’s daughter on December 11 at a palace hotel in Udaipur. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Panigrahy had allegedly flown chartered planes with the Pathak family to various locations around the country and stayed in expensive hotels.

Panigrahy, 56, who was the blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik not long ago, had lost his access to the CM, whose constituency of the Hinjili assembly he cared for for almost 10 years. Last week, he was expelled from the main BJD membership after his ties to suspended IFS officer Abhay Kanta Pathak and his son Akash were revealed. The IFS officer is now in jail for a disproportionate assets case.

Panigrahy’s problems may also escalate after the additional district judge’s court in Bhubaneswar rejected his request for bail on Monday. The MLA, which has been sent into judicial custody for 14 days by order of the SDJM court, had applied for bail to the Khurda District and Session Court.

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