The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today suffered a major blow with the arrest of its senior leader and MLA, Pravat Tripathy by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with his links with scam tainted chit fund firm, Artha Tatwa.
Tripathy, who was chief of BJD legislature party from August, 2012 to May 2014, represented Banki assembly constituency in Cuttack district.
Meanwhile, BJD has suspended Tripathy from the party following his arrest.
Tripathy is first political arrest in the multi-crore chit fund scam in the state though CBI, in the course of its investigation into the chit fund fraud cases, has interrogated many politicians, majority of them belonging to the ruling party.
Before his arrest, the central probe agency today interrogated the BJD leader for about 90 minutes.
Tripathy, who was accused of receiving huge sums of money from Artha Tatwa, has been charged with criminal conspiracy by the CBI.
Although his name had cropped up after the chit fund scam surfaced last year, he did not figure in the investigation of the Commissionerate Police which was probing the case before it was handed over to the CBI on the basis of the Supreme Court order.
An audio tape, allegedly containing the telephonic conversation between Tripathy and Artha Tatwa chief Pradeep Sethy, had appeared in the public. However, he had refuted the allegations.
It may be noted that during his tenure as the president of the State Cooperative Union, Tripathy had conferred the ‘Best Youth Co-operator’ award on Sethy.
The Odisha High Court had earlier given him interim relief on September 30 for about 20 days, preventing his possible arrest by the CBI. The HC had rejected his anticipatory bail plea on October 20.
His residences in Banki and Cuttack had also been raided and bank accounts of his close aide Subash Padhi scrutinised by the central probe agency last month.
“We have faith in CBI investigation. There must be prima facie evidence against Tripathy. But it is a lapse on his personal front. The party has nothing to do with it”, said Samir Das, BJD spokesperson reacting to Tripathy’s arrest.