Odisha Tourism Minister's Hyderabad Tour Snowballs Into Controversy, Opposition Demands Ouster

29 November 2019

Debashish Maharana

Bhubaneswar: Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi’s trip to Hyderabad in October this year has snowballed into a major controversy. The travel and accommodation of two individuals (both females) which were reportedly booked under the directions of the Minister are under opposition’s scrutiny.

While a clarification was issued by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Bikram Keshari Arukh that no money was spent from the State exchequer for the expenses of the aforementioned individuals, the State unit of Congress has demanded details over the capacity with were they travelling with the Minister.

Odisha Congress Media Cell Head, Satya Prakash Nayak today questioned, "Why should a non-profit organisation arrange the travel and stay of a Minister and his friends while he was on an official tour?" "The booking details of the hotel clearly show that these two persons were travelling with the Minister, and FICCI had arranged their stay. We demand clarity on this," Nayak said.

On the other hand, Government chief whip Pramilla Mallick requested the opposition not to politicise the issue. “The Minister has made it clear that no money has been spent from the Government fund. If someone takes friends for a tour on personal expenses, he or she should be spared from political statements," she said.

Sources said that two female friends had accompanied the Minister when he had gone to take part in a roadshow organized by Odisha Tourism in Hyderabad on October 4. “The Minister had written to the Director of OTDC asking it to book their tickets and accommodation along with his. He stayed at Hotel Taj Krishna, even though he was not entitled for a five-star accommodation as per the TA Rules of the government,” Nayak added.

Deputy Leader of Opposition and BJP MLA, Bishnu Charan Sethy today addressed the media on this matter and demanded Panigrahi's resignation.

Satya Prakash Nayak, Odisha Congress Media Cell Head

Pramilla Mallick, Government Chief Whip

Bishnu Charan Sethy, Deputy Leader of Opposition