Panchayat Polls: BJD Almost Rejected, but Congress Couldn’t Win

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It needs no elaboration to understand that political parties, by their official involvement, have vitiated the panchayat polls with partisan chauvinism and thereby have ruined the very purpose of panchayatiraj that aims at consolidating apolitical unity and collective activities amongst the rural people.

I have earlier discussed how the incumbent Chief Minister of Orissa Mr. Navin Patnaik took the lead in destroying the mission of decentralization of democracy. The people in Orissa, therefore, have thrashed him to a defeat in 508 out of 854 Zilla Parisad constituencies, the BJD, the party of his family sycophants, having managed to acquire certificates of success in only 345 seats, one seat yet undeclared.

His partner in power, the BJP, was so much hit by his partisan preferences that it preferred not to keep the alliance in tact in the panchayat polls. But in spite of this, the people refused to put on it their faith. It managed to win in only 129 seats far below 50 per cent of 303 seats that the Congress won.

So it was clear that the environment was congenial for the Congress. It could not take the advantage. It could have gained in a number of more ZP constituencies had the officials been allowed to act impartially. But it could have gained most of the ZP seats, notwithstanding misuse of officials by the BJD and BJP under their respective ministers, had it been able to fetch the youth support of the State.

It is a matter of grueling agony for the Congress cadres and supporters in Orissa that the party could not transform popular support to votes. But one who keenly observes the party is not at all surprised. The youth wing of the Congress is not that active even as the student wing is not operative in absence of its President for last six months. It is sad on part of the premier political party of the Country to have failed to have a President for its student wing.

In Oriya we say �Bapa pua rati anidra, mugura pachha mela!� which means, if the wickerwork cage to catch the fishes is not bound at the tail, the father and the son, howsoever keenly they may keep guard, cannot catch any fish at the end of the night.

The Congress ought to learn from this. It alone is the Party that can save Orissa from Naveen misrule. Hence it must make itself prepared for the calling responsibility. During my youth, students of Orissa that were not with the Communists and the Socialists were proudly with the Congress. If now they are not active in Congress, fault lies not with them but with the leadership of Congress. So Congress must visualize the role it is to play to save Orissa from the current anarchy and must not make any delay in making its student wing active by ensuring that an experienced student leader heads it.

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