Bhubaneswar: Expelled Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA and former Minister, Pradeep Panigrahy today said that senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Abhay Kant Pathak is one of the best officers in the State. Speaking to media persons, hours after his expulsion from BJD, Panigrahy said if there are allegations against Pathak, there must be certain proof and evidence corroborating those.
Vouching for the integrity of Pathak, Panigrahy said that his salary slips and records of expenses needs to be examined before coming up with allegations. The former Minister also raised a question mark on Vigilance probe in this matter. “Whatever the Vigilance alleges is that a fact? If such had been the case, then the Vigilance should have a 100 per cent conviction rate,” he said.
Pertaining to the Vigilance probe against Pathak, the Gopalpur MLA raised a doubt on the allegations of cash deposits in bank to the tune of several crore rupees and cash seized by the anti-corruption agency from the IFS officer’s driver and relative’s possession.
Speaking about Pathak’s son Akash, Panigrahy said he was student of a school in Berhampur and completed engineering at a private university in Bhubaneswar. Akash got placed with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) when he was in fourth year of engineering. He went to Romania for work but returned home for his mother’s illness. Later he was placed with Tata Motors Pune as a Graduate Engineer and Management Trainee.
In 2016, Akash scored the highest marks in GMAT exams in the country. After the GMAT results were published, he got an offer from Tata Group for Tata Administrative Services, as an internal candidate, in February 2018. After completion of training at Jamshedpur Tata Steel / Fortune Towers Bhubenswar, he joined as VP Administration in August 2018, said Panigrahy.
“In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic which started in March, National economy took a backseat. Prime Minister called on business houses to generate employment. Tata Group decided that 10 lakh jobs will be created in different places. Akash Pathak, MD Passenger Division also got a quota (target) to make appointments. However, it would not be appropriate for me to say what is right and what is wrong. They (Abhay Kant Pathak and Akash Pathak) are in judicial custody and the matter is under sub-judice.”
Reacting to the allegations of anti-people activities, Panigrahy said, “As the district president it is my duty to protect the party candidates. However, I am facing charges of working against the party. On the basis of what proof can they level such allegations that I have orchestrated the defeat of BJD candidates?”
Panigrahy was addressing the media in the presence of his wife Sujata Panigrahy. “In the past 20 years, how many personal assets I have acquired, this also needs to be probed. I have a request to thoroughly investigate my premises in Berhampur and Bhubaneswar. I have been confined to my home from the past two years. You all would not have spotted me in the Secretariat. I said that if the party does not desire me, I will quit politics, but no vendetta please.”
“It is also being alleged that I have intentionally made the party candidates lose, siphoned party funds and created indiscipline in the party. If I have mismanaged money, then I am answerable. But it should be probed. My source of income and ways of expenses, both should be put in the public domain,” he added.