Steel and Mines Minister resigns, says political conspiracy

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Bhubaneswar, Dec 28 (UNI) Orissa Steel and Mines Minister Padmanav Behera, who resigned in the wake of a communal clash in Kandhamal district, today said he became a victim of well planned conspiracy.

After submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on moral ground following large scale violence in his home district, Mr.Behera told newsmen that a conspiracy was hatched by his political opponents to defame him.

Mr Behera said during the last few days misinformation and misleading statements about his role in the Kandhmal violence had been spread through the media and he had resigned to remove the public misconception as well as to restore the age-old harmony between the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes in the district.

Official sources said the Chief Minister had accepted Mr Behera's resignation letter and sent to Governor M C Bhandare for his approval.

Mr Behera alleged that a similar misinformation campaign against him was also hatched in 1994 and he was defeated in the 1994 Assembly elections.

The Kui Samaj had alleged that Mr Behera had a role in the communal clash and had recommended to accord ST status on Pana Community.

The former minister said ST status could not be accorded to people who figured as Panas in the Record of Right and he had never recommended for according ST status on Pana community.

Mr Behera also appealed to the people of the district to maintain peace and harmony. He is the second Minister after School and Mass Education Minister Bishnu Das resigned from the government.

Mr Das had resigned from the ministry on August 17 last in the wake of mark scandal involving his son in the HSc examination conducted by the Orissa Board of Secondary Education.

UNI

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