So too should Patnaik: Opposition; death toll in Cuttack, Khurda up to 32

Odisha Excise Minister A.U. Singh Deo on Thursday resigned from his post on “moral grounds” even as the death toll in the hooch tragedy in Cuttack and Khurda districts rose to 32.

About 70 people, who consumed spurious liquor, were battling for life in the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack and other hospitals. Some of them were said to have lost their vision.

Mr. Deo, who represents the Bolangir Assembly constituency, sent his resignation letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the latter promptly forwarded the same to Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare.

Opposition parties, however, said the resignation was a ploy of the Biju Janata Dal government to save the party's image ahead of the panchayat polls.

Senior leaders of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party said that if Mr. Deo had to resign on moral grounds, so should the Chief Minister, who holds the Home portfolio, and Health Minister Prasanna Acharya, as both the police and the Health Department failed to prevent the tragedy.

“The Chief Minister should step down as the head of the government and his failure to learn how to run the government despite being in power for 12 long years,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik.

Leader of the BJP Legislature Party K.V. Singh Deo said their party had demanded the resignation of both the Chief Minister and the Excise Minister.

The resignation of the Excise Minister comes close on the heels of the resignation of Pipili legislator Pradeep Maharathy as Agriculture Minister last month when criticism mounted over police inaction in a case relating to alleged gang-rape and physical assault of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in November last. She is battling for her life in the SCB Medical College and Hospital.

The spurious liquor was laced with cheap medicines with high alcohol content

70-odd villagers reportedly on the verge, some were said to have become blind

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