TATHAGAT IS RIGHT

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In a signed editorial on May 11, editor of Orissa’s well-read broadsheet’Dharitri’, Mr. Tathagat Satpathy has preferred irrigation to an IIT in Orissa.

“Put priority on providing water to agricultural lands instead of spending money for IIT, so that the Oriyas, basically agriculturists as they are, will earn enough money to afford high-tech education, as and when they want, to their children in any top-rated institute anywhere; but don’t misspend money on IIT as that will not help poor cultivators, forming the majority in Orissa, to get them admitted even to the same IIT established in the State”, he has argued.

It reminds me of the agitation for water to agricultural land that I had initiated at Athgarh in early eighties, in the constituency of the then Chief Minister Mr. J.B. Pattanaik in open disapproval of his famous call for establishment of a thousand industries in a thousand days. Priority on agriculture, not industry that was the theme of that agitation. The anthem of that agitation, authored by me, is available in saubhasya.com. I had kept that agitation symbolically limited to the constituency of the chief minister.

Notwithstanding howsoever wrongly he is painted, Mr. J.B.Pattnaik is a pro-people leader who appreciates demands from his political opponents if thereby the common man would get any benefit.

This I say on the basis of my experience with him as his archrival in his constituency for almost the decade full of eighties. He had appreciated my demands for priority on irrigation and had remarkably shifted his priority from industry to agriculture.

But before he could do something tangible for agriculture, omnipotent Time played the trick and his second term as chief minister having terminated prematurely, Congress replaced him with me as its candidate and offered me its ticket with hand symbol. On principle I declined to accept the offer and instead, filed my nomination on behalf of the United Communist Party of India. Congress did not plant any other candidate and supported me officially. Excepting the voters who were politically conscious and had understood the significance of Congress alliance with the UCPI, the general electorate refused to support me, even though individually all of them were my admirers, such was the aversion of people towards the Congress by then.

That was a time of confusion.

Congress was soiled to the core as the ‘Mr. Clean’ image of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had been razed down by his own finance minister V. P. Singh in Bofors deal.

Moreover, elevation of R.K.Dhawan, the man suspected to have played a key role in murder of Indira Gandhi, to an immensely powerful politico-administrative position by Rajiv Gandhi had made people look at him and his cronies askance.

Justice M. P. Thakkar, who had officially investigated the assassination of Indira Gandhi, had reported that “needle of suspicion” pointed directly towards Dhawan. He had submitted this report to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi personally. But instead of initiating action against Dhawan, Rajiv had brought him back to power as Prime Minister’s Additional Secretary, a post from where he later controlled the entire cabinet.

This was quite baffling that after becoming the Prime Minister, Rajiv could reinstate and enhance the powers of a person, who was factually suspected by a judicial commission of enquiry as a kingpin in the murder of his mother, the iron PM India had ever had, who had in course of time become a total antagonist of US of America and in whose assassination Justice Thakkar had seen the shadows of CIA.

People were sensing rat but unable to react. As and when time will come, they would sure oust Rajiv from chair, it was clear.

V.P.Singh took the advantage and many a discredited politicians like Biju Patnaik saw a new possibility of recapturing power by siding with Singh. This had metamorphosed into a new outfit of vested interest design called the Janata Dal.

On the other hand, people were eager to get rid of the scandalous phase of Congress rule. Therefore, Congress in Orissa also got defeated. And hence, Congress’ official offer of support to me had affected my electoral prospects quite adversely.

Biju grabbed the opportunity and captured power and then, as was his wont, unleashed chaos. A new era of payola determining administrative decisions commenced.

Corruption and chaos became so rampant in Orissa that his staff in the Secretariat had to give vent to their irk by manhandling him in the office premises and he had to be rescued by police. Nowhere in India government employees had ever manhandled a sitting chief minister in the Secretariat like this. The entire State was drowned under misrule.

This helped Congress in gaining back people’s support as, through comparison, they felt that Congress misrule was less harsh than that of Biju.

JB became the chief minister again.

As I saw, immediately after he took oath, he took steps for improvement in agriculture.

An official from the agriculture department had come to me to explore as to what best could be done for agriculture.

I had responded with my views that any attempt to effect any improvement in agriculture would go barren if the executive is not bound by an agriculture policy.

Then as I saw, the first thing to happen very fast in JB’s new phase of chiefministership was formulation and promulgation of an official policy on agriculture.

Under his stewardship, Orissa not only got a government that was bound by law to a first-of-its-kind-agriculture-policy, but also agriculture got the status of industry.

But Congress is a party of many peculiarities where self-seekers carve out their own domains and operate those domains without any objection as long as the so-called high command enjoys their loyalty.

Taking advantage of this specific character of Congress, persons with unbridled ambition like Basant Biswal and pseudo-socialist saboteurs like Bhagabat Mohanty had built up their own syndicate inside the State unit and maddened by inferiority complex and envy had been contriving such scenarios that JB could not employ his full vigor for implementation of the policy he had framed. Ultimately he succumbed to the high-command syndrome of Congress and the party suffered the logical setback in the elections.

In the void thus created Biju’s posthumous spirit taking a bizarre turn his son Naveen Patnaik gained the reign and pampered by family factotums attired as politicians, he started looking at Orissa as his fiefdom. And, befitting a fiefdom, administration discarded whatever democratic commitments it had had and adopted sycophantic stances so densely that Orissa’s every step became a step against the commons.

Priority of the State changed from improvement of agriculture to acquisition of agricultural land for allocation to private industries. This has resulted in many perversions, patronization to POSCO with 4000 acres of land on the security sensitive seashore near Paradip and 8000 acres of land to Anil Agrawal for his industrial hub in the guise of a university on the marine drive near Puri being instances.

Naveen Patnaik has clearly been ruining Orissa.

Come to the official records.

Open any page of the Reports of the Comptroller And Auditor General, you will find immense instances of unbridled corruption, malfeasances, misappropriation and misadministration going on with ever rising frequency unpunished.

You will find instances of how the funds earmarked for poverty amelioration are being used to ensure profit fetching by commission agents.

You will find instances of how contractors have been grabbing the money meant for providing food to the starving village folks, of how food-for-work funds are looted by engaging machineries instead of men and women by the contractors under the nose of the concerned authorities.

You will find instances of how public sector undertakings are subjected to avaricious assaults by their boards of management appointed by the government and how the government goes on giving protection to persons by whose help unscrupulous businessmen have been bilking the State of its revenue worth crores and crores of rupees

Look at any area audited, you will only find instances of misappropriation and mismanagement, administrative chaos and corruption.

But you will never find a single instance of good governance in Orissa.

Even the government’s own contrivances will fail to give you a different picture.

Look at the Department of Information & Public Relations. It publishes two journals: Orissa Review and Utkal Prasang. It churns out innumerable press notes and sponsored ads. You will find in them amplification of how foreign operators like the POSCO are being established in Orissa, but you will never find a single instance of how a displaced Oriya has been genuinely and gainfully established.

In the pages of these official publications, you will find how MOU after MOU with non-Oriya and non-Indian capitalists are being signed with increased vehemence under the umbrage of the chief minister; but you will never find any instance of any project aimed at saving our own people from disasters like flood and drought to have ever been given even a semblance of priority attention.

Orissa has fallen into a labyrinth of despair. And the people are no more willing to tolerate.

The Panchayat polls have established that the chief minister’s outfit BJD has been mortified by the people notwithstanding high-expensive and gorgeous campaigns conducted by himself and all his cabinet colleagues as well as all his party MLAs and MPs. It portends a severe debacle for Naveen in the next election.

So methods to divert public attention from his misrule to failings of political opponents, specifically the Congress, are being contrived. One such contraption is instigating people of Orissa against the Congress-run central government on concocted allegation that it has not implemented the decision to establish an IIT in this State.

In these pages I have earlier shown how a specific group of Oriyas, staying mostly in UK, USA and Japan have been supporting the illegal acquisition of our peoples’ lands by the Naveen Patnaik government acting as it is as the launching pad of industrial empires of POSCO and the likes.

These people are vociferous against road blockade resorted to by the displaced as their last resort in expressing their active protests against state terrorism to which they have been subjected to.

These people have been openly advocating for land-grabbers and mines-mongers, as according to them, Orissa’s acceptance of their spread would be her emancipation!

There are persons amongst these people who are in their ingratiating best to eke out berths for themselves in POSCO and/or Vedant with full protection of their current income in foreign coin expanded by incentives for their contributions to the ongoing public-relation-campaigns of those industries.

As I am informed by dependable sources, a number of NROs have already applied for prime plots and prospects of easy acquisition of such government lands at Bhubaneswar in important locations if the chief minister is pleased is another cause of their open support to POSCO and Vedant.

One of these ingratiating methods is the endeavor to safeguard the political interests of Naveen by attacking the central government for non-grant of IIT to Orissa and instigating the people to believe that the IIT has been theft away from their soil and unless the same is restored, paths of prosperity would not open for them.

These NROs have been trying to show that if anything deserves priority attention that is the establishment of IIT.

This is no small a tool contrived to divert public attention from ongoing misrule in the State. But the most catastrophic aspect of this campaign is relegating agriculture to an inferior position in public perception while elevating imperialism to the position from where alone people can expect benefit.

It is a shame that political leaders and media, supposed to be watchdogs of interest of the commons, are conspicuous by their silence!

In such a situation, Tathagat Satpathy, though a BJD member in Parliament, has, through his welcome editorial in Dharitri, assured the people that every conscience is not yet killed.

A two-in-one, politician and pressman, he is right and absolutely so in his reading of the real requirement of Orissa.

He is the first amongst politicians of our state to have refused to be swayed away by the neo elite howling for the IIT. And he is the first amongst the print media editors of our State to have shown how irrigation to agricultural lands deserves more attention than running after an IIT.

I thank him from the core of my heart and wish others to follow him. I have no hesitation to say that he has emerged as the most speaking conscience-keeper of Orissa.

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