Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Had the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik agreed for a CBI enquiry he would not have committed any wrong. But what he thought to be right in refusing the demand for a CBI enquiry seems not to be right.

His close associates are allegedly harboring contact killers as per reported confessions of an accused. He being the CM as well as the Home Minister, the Opposition fears that any investigation by any branch of the State Police may not be not influenced by his position. Therefore the demand for CBI enquiry.

As is being marked, rowdies termed “tender mafia” are deciding the fate of tender notices in Orissa. Officials are only putting their stamps of approval. Obstacles are eliminated through contract killers.

Murder of two persons on April 18, 2005 under Nayapalli Police Station, Bhubaneswar followed by another on May 01, registered vide P.S.Case No.115 and 157 respectively belong to this category. So also the murder of Pratap Parida in Kendrapada (P. S. Case No.299 dated August 01). Public reaction over this murder was so acrimonious that the area has since been kept under police bayonet although curfew has been lifted after almost a tormenting week. Hardly had the State recovered from the Kendrapada shock, a pair of contract killers opened fire at another contractor at Baleshwar on August 04 which has been registered there as P.S.Case no.201. These are only instances.

Modus operandi behind all these murders being clear, Orissa Assembly in session, the Opposition took a stern stance. Under apprehension of further castigation, the government pressed its police to do something that could be cited as an example of swift action of the State against crime. And, thus, the police apprehended one Anil Chhotaray whose admitted avocation is fixing up of tenders. He has accumulated massive wealth within such short span of time that the investigators were amazed. But the most bewildering revelation came when he named the fellows who harbored him. These fellows belong to the Chief Minister’s coterie. Notable it is that, he has been operating mostly in the Water Resources Department, which is handled by the CM himself.

Unlike others in the media, we refrain from reporting the names revealed by Anil. Mafia, in our opinion, cannot be relied upon.

But, if the Chief Minister wants that people should rely upon him, he must come forward to say as to why he failed to know what has been going on under his nose in the very department he holds.

Besides the Water resources department, he holds the portfolio of Home. Under the Rules of Business, the Police and Intelligence, the crime control machinery, belong to this portfolio. The CM must, therefore, take a stock of what happens in this department of his and say as to why tender fixation could go on unnoticed and unhindered to such an explosive extent.

It is being touted that e-tender is the root cause of contact killing. When, earlier, work aspirants were being assured of a share if they help the mafia in fixing up the tender in favour of a particular person or firm, e-tender has eliminated this possibility. Hence mafia, for its share, directly approaches the tender winner and this leads to what prompts the triggers. The violence, therefore, is caused, not because of any wrong on part of administration, but because the administration is discouraging wrong action, they argue.

We underline, this is a wrong argument.

There is no e-tender policy in vogue. In the guise of e-tender, which is supposed to eliminate physical involvement, direct fixation of tenders is being done in the administrative level. Nobody opens the government websites, which are not even updated for years. So, after floating a tender notice in the net, which the authorities know that nobody shall know, direct negotiations are made with preferred contractors and tenders are settled accordingly. This is the root cause of envy and enmity. It may be corrected if tenders are floated in private websites. But the Information and Public Relation department, held also by the Chief Minister, refuses to entertain such an idea.

The Chief Minister must allow himself to see this phenomena if crime against the people is to be really curbed.

And, above all, he must take a stern look at people who constitute his coterie. It is everybody’s knowledge that he is working under pressure of the coterie. He has proved it by the very fact that he has never sought for or acted upon direction of his cabinet in vital transactions like the mining deals. So suspicion that he acts as per direction of the coterie is strong enough to be set aside.

Should he not explain his position?