By Subash Mohapatra
BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI: It was the fourth straight win for Naveen Patnaik and his party Biju Janata Dal in 2014, with the so-called Modi wave failing to make any dent into his constituency even after he parted ways with NDA in 2009. Bagging 117 out of 147 assembly constituencies and 20 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats, the historic win was credited to Patnaik’s largely clean and pro-development image. However, when the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested some of his MPs and MLAs a few months into his term for their involvement in illegal chit fund companies and ponzi schemes, this clean image suffered a serious dent.
The revelations of the bank documents www.headlineseveryday.com has accessed have further tarnished this image, questioning the very means of funding the election campaign that handed out Patnaik’s BJD another term in power in the most impoverished Indian state of Odisha. In fact, these documents raise a pertinent question: Was the BJD’s 2014 election campaign bankrolled using hawala money?
For instance, an individual named Purna Chandra Padhi deposited about Rs 25 lakh in cash in the bank account of BJD in as many as 15 installments, with the amount deposited ranging from a paltry Rs 3,275.00 to Rs 3,34,500.00 in a period of five months. This was done notwithstanding the rules framed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) which forbid cash donations above Rs 20,000 to a political party. Details of every donation made by individuals or corporate houses have to be duly submitted to the Election Commission. However, the poll expenses returns that Patnaik’s party filed with the CEC after the 2014 assembly elections do not reflect such cash donations made to the party’s kitty. Padhi again made huge deposits in cash in April 2014.
So, who exactly is this generous doner?
Purna Chandra Padhi (Voter ID:OR/10/073/242703) is a peon/messenger, and he works for Biju Janata Dal’s office. He is a poor man, and also a beneficiary bearing no. 11381010349 under National Food Security Act as a man of BPL/below poverty line status who is entitled to the benefit of Rs1@1kg rice scheme. Is it not surprising Biju Janata Dal’s peon donates lakhs of rupees to his party?
In a clear case of money laundering, huge sums totalling in crores were transferred from an anonymous account (10091805573) to the Biju Janata Dal account (10091755246). This anonymous account bears CIF No. 80072402484 and sources within the bank claim that this being held in the name of SBI Bhubaneswar Main Branch as the customer name. Holding such anonymous accounts, without proper identification of the account holder, and allowing huge transactions from the same is a blatant violation of Master Circular on Know Your Customer (KYC) norms/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards/Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT)/Obligation of banks under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
However, no such transaction, which in political jargon is termed a ‘donation’, is reflected in the returns that BJD has filed with the Election Commission. In its annual returns before the ECI for the years 2012–2014, for instance, BJD has failed to bring on record all such huge cash deposits and their sources. This cannot be an oversight by the party leadership. The SBI authorities did not sound out any constitutional or statutory authority concerned, such as the Election Commission and Department of Income Tax, among others, on these illegal transactions, which amply points to a nexus between the party in power in the state and banking officials.
The data available on ECI website makes it clear that BJD has not furnished any annual report as mandated under Section 29-C of the Representation of the People Act 1951 for each financial year till 2009. Further, the party has claimed that it has received “NIL” donation/contribution in excess of Rs 20000 from any individuals in that financial year. It has filed annual returns before the ECI for the year 2011–12 and 2012–13.
Apart from concealing cash transactions made through the anonymous account, BJD has shied away from disclosing the money it has in fixed deposits with the SBI. Here are details of these deposits.
Sl. No. Branch code Account Product Amount
01* 07188 10091755246 CA-GEN-PUBIND-NON-RURAL-INR 94,28,221.19
02 07188 34395299212 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 83,00,000.00
03 07188 34395315292 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 83,00,000.00
04 07188 34395326488 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 83,00,000.00
05 07188 34395317674 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 83,00,000.00
06 07188 34395319036 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 83,00,000.00
07 07188 34395327682 STD-15LA-GEN-PUBIND-3<5Y-INR 85,00,000.00
08* 00039 34534588480 CA-GEN-PUBOTH-NON-RURAL-INR 99,382.00
In yet another clear case of money laundering, several crores of rupees were transferred from the account of a nodal agency, Indiaideas, which has nothing to do with politics, to the BJD bank account. Interestingly, Indiaideas is an online payment gateway company which works out of Mumbai. These transactions took place between March 20 and March 24, 2014 and on several other occasions. The original source of the money remains unknown.
Moreover, in his declaration to the Election Commission, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has claimed that he received a party fund of Rs 1310625 for his election campaign through RTGS and a cheque (No. 538976288). Interestingly, cheques have 5 or 6 digit numbers. When a scrutiny was made of the BJD bank account, no such payment was found to have ever been made through RTGS or cheque. Patnaik, obviously, made a false declaration.
Naveen Patnaik, while submitting the details of account of election expenses to the Election Commission of India in compliance of section 77 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1951 on oath in shape of affidavit dated June 15, 2014, in Sl.No.1 of Scheduled 8 of Part –IV of Form of Affidavit, submitted that he has received an amount of Rs13,10,625/- from his party, Biju Janata Dal, as a lump sum amount vide RTGS cheque 538976288 dated April 2, 2014 which is quite contradictory to the statement of expenses submitted by BJD to ECI as stated in the preceding paragraph.
BJD Member of Parliament from Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha Constituency Ramchandra Hansda, who is currently in judicial custody for chitfund scam, is known to have received an amount of Rs 10,00,000/- vide cheque no.538976288 dated on May 08, 2014 as a lumpsum amount from BJD and this has been reflected in his affidavit submitted before ECI under 77 of RP Act 1951. However, BJD submitted a statement to ECI to the effect that it has paid Rs 10,00,000/- to Ramchandra Hansdah vide Cheque No.441666 dated May 08, 2014.
The contents that has been submitted by BJD in compliance with the direction of the Election Commission of India for filing of election expenses in the prescribed format of Sl.No.9 of Scheduled 18 reveals that Naveen Patnaik has been supported with Rs 10 lakh towards his election expenses for Hinjli Assembly Constituency on 03.03.2014 vide cheque No. 441619 dated 30.3.2014. Further it is stated that said single cheque carries a value of rupees to the tune of 35 Lakh towards four election contesting candidates.
In the said statement BJD has further clarified that Naveen Patnaik has returned Rupees 648320/- to it after the final date of General election.
A sum of Rs 45 lakh was transferred through a bank cheque from BJD’s A/C no 10091755246 to eight party candidates during the general elections in 2014 through a single cheque bearing no. 441630 on 10 April 2014. It is reflected in the data submitted by BJD while providing the details of election expenditure in compliance with the direction of the Election Commission of India for filing of election expenses in prescribed format.
Surprisingly, Member of Parliament Balabhadra Majhi, who represents from Nabarangpur Lok Sabha Constituency, while submitting the details of account of election expenses to the Election Commission of India in compliance of section 77 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1951 on oath in shape of affidavit dated June 16, 2014, submitted that he has received “NIL” amount from his party Biju Janata Dal.
BJD leader Rajiv Patra, who was contesting 82(ST) Assembly Constituency in Odisha, while submitting the details of account of election expenses to the Election Commission of India in compliance of section 77 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1951 on oath in shape of affidavit dated June 13, 2014, submitted that he has received Rs 10,000,00/- amount from his party Biju Janata Dal in two instalments of Rs 5,00,000/- each. However, BJD has stated that it has extended Rs5,00,000/- to its party candidate Rajiv Patra while submitting the report in compliance with the direction of the Election Commission of India for filing of election expenses in prescribed format.
It is noteworthy that Prafulla Kumar Pangi, who was contesting candidate from BJD for 145(ST) –Pottangi Assembly Constituency, while submitting the details of account of election expenses to the Election Commission of India on dated June 10, 2014, submitted that he has received Rs 5,00,000/- from his party Biju Janata Dal as bank deposit at Semiliguda KCC Bank on April 11, 2014. But BJD in his report submitted to ECI as stated in preceding paragraph stated that it has donated Rs 5,00,000/- through a single cheque to eight persons including Prafulla Kumar Pangi through bank transfer, signifying that BJD and its candidates, including its President Naveen Patnaik and officials have submitted misleading information willfully to ECI.
Hema Gomago (the wife of former Chief Minister Giridhar Gomango), who fought from BJD, filed affidavit on dated 12 June 2014, and submitted the same before the Election Commission of India as per Sec77/78 of Representation of People Act that she has received Rs 8 Lakh from her party BJD. She has received Rs 3 lakh cash on March 28, 2014. She also received through bank transfer of Rs 5 lakh in two installments (3L+2L) on 4 April and 5 April in the same year respectively. BJD concealed its payment to Hema Gomango vide letter No.729/BJD/2014 dated July 28, 2014 while submitting election expenses to ECI, which is mandatory.
BJD’s Bhubaneswar Kishan from Kuchinda assembly constituency filed an affidavit on 13th June 2014 and submitted to Election Commission that he has not received any money from his party BJD in cash or cheque. But BJD in its July 28 letter to ECI stated it has paid its candidate Rs 5 lakh through a cheque no. 441666 which was issued to 12 persons on May 8, 2014 along with Bhubaneswar Kisan.
BJD informed ECI that it has paid Binoy Kumar Toppo Rs 5 lakh towards his election expenses on May 8, 2014 vide SBI cheque 441666. But by affidavit Binoy Kumar Toppo said that he has received 10 lakh in two installments. On 22 March, he received cash amounting to Rs5 lakh. Further he received on May 8, 2014 Rs 5 lakh through a PNB cheque (006200).
Sakuntala Laguri (MP elected from Keonjhar Lok Sabha Constituency ) filed affidavit on 11 June 2014 and stated therein that she has received Rs 18,62,720 in three installments. But BJD says it has only paid her Rs5 lakh.
Sanjay Kumar Das Barma, the present food and supply minister, filed an affidavit in which he stated that he has received donation of rupees one lakh each from RK Das and Ranjan Nanda vide clg 538976288, on dated 29 March and 16 April, 2014 respectively.
Jhina Hikala on affidavit (14 June 2016) stated that he has received Rs10 Lakh from BJD’s SBI secretariat account bearing cheque no.53896288 on dated 2 April 2014. BJD says, on the other hand, that it has paid him Rs10 lakh on dated 03.03.2014 vide cheque 441619 (from SBI’s Rajapath Branch), along with three others, including party chief Naveen Patnaik.
Rita Tarai said party spent on her Rs 1388284/- (Rs 10 lakh through RTGS dated 2 April 2014 and Rs 3,88,284 for poster/flex etc), but the party insists it has only paid her Rs 10 lakhs by cheque.
Bhawanipatna (Kalahandi) MLA Anam Naik said on affidavit that he has received Rs 5 lakh through cheque 441618/538976288 from party, dated 29.3.2014.
Dambaru Sisa, the MLA from Malakangiri District, stated on affidavit dated on 10.06.2014 that he has not received any money from his party for election expenses. Contrary to his claims, BJD has stated that it has paid Rs 5 lakh towards his election expense vide cheque 441618/29.3.2014.
Member of Parliament Dilip Kumar Tirkey has been paid from BJD Rs7.5 lakh, but he did not submit the election account in the manner and time required by law.
Related Story : BJD MP Tirkey’s Turf defies Election Commission
The list of donors to the party fund is also surprising and raises many doubts, as it includes some mining and steel companies. With a contribution of Rs 8 crore to party fund, the Aditya Birla group tops the list of 47 corporate donors of the BJD. Similarly, BJD got money from a certain Indiaideas 1.2 (in 19 installment ranging from Rs 60,000/- to 14 lakh, but it did not inform/disclose these to the ECI, which is violation of the RP Act).
With such questionable transactions, BJD and Patnaik have rendered the funding of their 2014 election campaign and thus their victory highly questionable. The taint has certainly here to stay with these revelations of the use of laundered black money.
It is not merely the anonymous donations to the party or its candidates that make these transactions less than honourable, but the fact that many candidates received money from chit-fund operators. According to the affidavits of Papu Pom Pom allias Tattwa Prakash Satapathy submitted before the Election Commission, he had received the donation and loan of Rs 3.94 lakh from Prabhas Rout, who is chief of the OSCAR chit fund and currently in judicial custody. Papu had mentioned in the affidavit during submission of nomination papers that he received Rs 2.5 lakh as loan from Rout. Furthermore, he had also mentioned in the election expenditure affidavit that he received Rs 1.44 lakh as a donation from Rout. Later, he was expelled from BJD for casting couch allegation.
Related Story: O’wood casting couch: Police registers FIR against Papu