BHUBANESWAR MAYOR OFFENDS THE LADIES, BOTH CORPORATORS & THE COMMISSIONER

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Absolutely unprecedented it is in the history of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).

But when a protégé of the Chief Minister happens to be the Mayor, not to have played with the dignity of the lady colleagues while the Council was in session would have remained unprecedented in the annals of Biju legacy that these fellows claim to have inherited.

Mrs. Basanti Bara, the then lady Chairperson of Kutra Block in Sundergarh District was subjected to sexual harassment by the departmental Minister Damodar Raut who was such a satyr that he went to the extent of fondling her upper front taking advantage of the only gas lamp going dim for whatever reason in the evening on the podium of the public meeting he had addressed. The world knows that India’s National Commission for Women had investigated into this matter and passed severe strictures against the Minister. But to Biju Patnaik, then the Chief Minister, it was an act of manly guts that, he was happy, his Minister had displayed!

This being Biju legacy, the BJD Mayor has nothing to worry as long as his co-heirs to the legacy are in power. The lady Commissioner as well as the ladies in the Council may acquiesce into political overbearing and hereafter keep mum. But the way they reacted to the manners of the Mayor on 27 July 2006 would remain a reminder of how the occasion was for them to feel that the first citizen of the Capital City is a male supremacist.

The deplorable development got its flow from the natural water flow between Sahidnagar and Satyanagar getting blocked by a mafia within the limits of the Municipal Ward that Ms. Urmila Das is representing. There is an ancient drain from time immemorial sandwiched by these two localities through which rain water as well as sewage flows away giving relief to the inhabitants to a large extent. An unknown land-grabber has been tampering with this natural facility by filling it up with solid waste and soil. He is working out his plan clandestinely and safely as the general public is taking it to be a genuine official programme. Ms. Das, in the monthly meeting of the BMC, wanted to know who is filling up the ancient drain and why. Mayor Mihir Mohanty sloughed it over. Ms. Das remained standing for twenty minutes while insisting upon an answer. Mohanty feigned ignorance but later informed that the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) is doing it. Then how is it that the BMC vehicles are being used? -asked she. Her insistence annoyed the Mayor so much that he, without any qualm, hurled words which may be termed obnoxious. Refusing to be cowed down, Ms. Das further asked as to why the road repair of Sahidnagar area is not being taken up even though that is taking a turn to worse everyday. But the Mayor did not pay any attention to her. This contemptuous attitude infuriated the women corporators who stood firmly with Ms. Das when the lady Commissioner Ms. Aparajita Sarangi thought it prudent to prevail upon the Mayor that public in Sahidnagar being in utter disadvantage due to damaged roads, repair thereof should be taken up without resorting to the time consuming Tender call process. The Mayor mistook it as a display of women solidarity and was so aggressively gruff at the lady Commissioner that she left the Hall in protest.

The meeting had to be adjourned under that unrelentingly acrimonious circumstance; but when after launch it resumed, the predicament refused to recede.

The matter has hit headlines. But the Mayor does not bother. Party machines of both BJD and BJP are in motion to make their respective lady corporators understand that sentimentalism will not help in urban area politics, particularly in the capital city.

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