CHANGE IN MEDIA STANCE REFLECTS LOSS OF PEOPLES’ CONFIDENCE IN ORISSA CM

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If Chief Minister Navin Patnaik could be distinguished for any specific behavior that is his shying at the peoples of Orissa.

As is evidenced in his visit to Kandhamal on August 30, he could not dare to visit any village that perished under communal fire. To please his communal allies he visited the Hindutwa activist Laxmanananda’s murder spot and interacted with a very few persons who were clearly in Hindu fold; but he never dared to meet the vandalized villagers.

There were severe intracommunity conflicts at Koradagarh as high caste Hindus subjected low caste Hindus to atrocious hooliganism by obstructing their rights to worship Sri Jagannath even to the extent of contemptuously contravening High Court orders. Navin could not dare to reach the spot to inspire peoples to drop caste prejudices and to build up social solidarity.

His uniformed forces killed innocent tribal peoples in Kalinganagar as they were opposing industrialists like Tata taking over their mother-soil. He never dared to visit the families of the victims after the mayhem.

Peoples have been fighting for their mother-soil in Kujang Tahsil where foreign firm POSCO is using Orissa administration to grab their land. Peoples are fighting against acquisition of their mother-soil at Puri for handing over the same to non-Oriya Anil Agrawal. Peoples are also opposing the same land-grabber’s nefarious design at the foot of Niyamagiri. Seeking implementation of their birthright to get justice without difficulty the peoples of western Orissa have been agitating to have a division bench of the High Court in their portion of the State.

Like this everywhere peoples are feeling that they are abandoned by their state government and so, are fighting for their rights in their own ways.

As the leader of the State, Navin should have gone to their midst to have conversations with them, to acquaint himself with their problems personally in order to find out how they will not feel abandoned. But he has never.

This is simply because he knows that the aura of his-father’s-son-status that he and his cronies had dandled before the gullible people was too artificial to live long and has by now dwindled.

He knows peoples have lost their misconceived confidence in him and hence he is shying at them.

He has lost the confidence since long. But the media, specifically Oriya language media, propelled by plutocratic tentacles, has kept him erect in the political arena so far. To understand this phenomenon one needs to know the contemporary Oriya newspapers and their nexus.

Oriya language newspapers are mostly in right-wingers’ hands with a common creed of antagonism to communism. In other words, they are anti-progress. Navin’s obsessions with industry oblivious of the grief-struck-grassroots never seem to them as anti-people policies. He has a well-set nexus with them as the anti-progress practices these newspapers have adopted in search of advertisement revenue suits him most.

Most of the Oriya newspapers have given false and fabricated circulation figures that the government knows quite well.

Almost all of them are guilty of unfair labor practices and in no newspaper in Orissa, working journalists are paid with due wages.

Were the labor law implementation machinery being used against the newspaper owners, most of them might have been legally incarcerated. This has never happened.

There are journalists in Oriya newspaper organizations whose wealth is thousand times more than what they draw as salary. This illegitimate wealth accumulated by lead journalists of lead newspapers is generally generated by their nexus with economic offenders. Newspaper establishments know it, but they also know that the said journalists know the unholy nexus of their owners with the underworld and the packs of people in power. So, there is no action against any journalist on charge of corruption.

Concealment of wealth is a penal offense. For any wealth disproportionate to known source of income, the Laws have penal provisions. But Laws are rendered inoperative in matter of illicit wealth accumulation by media persons.

The vigilance wing of state police can intervene and unveil disproportionate wealth and subject the offender to prosecution. Vigilance police knows who of the Orissan journalists have wealth hundredth or thousandth time more than their legitimate income. But it has never dared to intervene, as it knows that journalists of this type know how corruption is going on in the vigilance organization itself.

Only last week, a low rank engineer, who has been working in the vigilance organization for about two decades, has, due to a whistle-blower, been discovered as a man of crores, which, in terms of money exceeds his legitimate income by hundred times. This accumulation was going on when the present Director General of Police was the Director of vigilance. Only an idiot can accept that this was going on without the knowledge of vigilance department. If the vigilance police claim to be ignorant of this corruption, then it is to admit that the organization is not vigilant. What a shame!

Lest the shame exposed, the vigilance police have never tried to expose the newspapers and the journalists who they know have undisclosed wealth accumulated by way of misuse of professional power.

On the other hand, the IAS officers who are ruling the roost are having their agents in newspapers and amongst journalists. A close watch on them would lead to know that IAS officers in senior echelon have their preferred persons in Oriya media. They often work according to their advice. There is no official sanction for any IAS officer to have any journalist as his advisor. But visit any IAS officer in odd hours; you may see in his official chamber or in his residence a journalist whose rapport with the officer may make you astonished.

The rapport is not professional, but personal. The base is secret. You may use your imagination to any extent to find out the secret if you can, but be sure of one thing that such a journalist who enjoys no-bar-entry into the inner circle of a senior IAS officer acts as a conduit and is certainly a possessor of undisclosed wealth. .

Men who matter know how an officer after elevation to chief secretary rank had patronized a small group of journalists to bring out a daily newspaper and how this newspaper starting from the inaugural edition fetched crores of rupees from advertisement by help of the said officer. The vigilance police that are officially entitled to obstruct corruption never looked at this new phenomenon and never tried to know if the said officer was fetching undisclosed money under the cover of this newspaper. This may just be the tip of the nexus-iceberg.

A blatantly corrupt fellow placed in lift irrigation wing has been unveiled in a recent vigilance raid propelled by insistence of a whistle-blower as possessor of several crores of rupees. But this officer’s ability to practice corruption without attracting anybody’s attention was considered as an outstanding administrative ability by his controlling officers in the IAS echelon and therefore he was rewarded with promotion to IAS from OAS.

These are just instances. The whole gamut of administration in Orissa has become corrupt. A collective lootraj in active collaboration with unscrupulous lot amongst the journalists and lead newspapers is going on in Orissa in the regime of Navin Patnaik with stooges well placed in all nerve centers of administration.

Therefore, Navin and his officialdom enjoy a situation where they claim to be enjoying peoples’ confidence.

But the situation has started changing.

In every newspaper now-a-days most of the headlines show how Orissa is being duped and drowned under misrule. Every newspaper in almost every page is highlighting ongoing corruption and deficient administration.

For an instance we may look at certain headlines of selected newspapers Dated August 30 as on editions of this day, the news of ‘no’ to no-confidence motion against Navin was published.

Let me start with Khabar. This is the newest language daily of Orissa. BJD’s most powerful MP, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra off the records owns it. In a five-column photo-studded story captioned “Manisha Hata” (Human Market), it highlighted in its op-ed page how workers are distress-selling themselves when labor laws are freely contravened in the capital city of Bhubaneswar. It has many other reports on misrule in the same edition like the one under another five-column headline, “Faltering in highway repair causes 767 casualties in Khurda within three years”. Similarly, “Health services in disarray due to want of Doctors”, “Rs.2 per kg. Rice in Black-market” etc highlighted by Khabar are multi-column reports on misrule in Orissa. The daily, Dharitri, virtually owned by another BJD MP, Tathagat Satpathy, in a multi-column story exposed how clandestinely the state government has ordered for location of forestland to be handed over to POSCO to the predicament of local peoples agitating against allocation of their soil to the foreign firm.

When papers under virtual ownership of BJD MPs are thus eagerly highlighting the dark-side of Navin administration, the scenarios in other newspapers need no specific elaboration.

The visible shift in media stance is indicative of the fact that notwithstanding defeat of the no-confidence motion on August 29 in Orissa Assembly, Orissa media has grasped that peoples of the State have lost their confidence in chief minister Navin Patnaik and that is being reflected in the change in their stance.

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