DEMOCRACY DEFILED: HOUSE OUSTS CONGRESS MEMBER FOR A WEEK; REALITY ENTOMBED

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Legislative Assembly has ousted Congress member Tarakant Bahinipati for seven days as on adoption of a treasury bench motion to suspend him the Speaker decided to enforce it on 11th December.

Bahinipati attracted the harsh decision by venturing to hit the Speaker with an earphone though that had missed the target. It was an affront to dignity of the House, members felt. Bahinipati also felt the same way; but explained his action as a reaction to anti-democratic conduct of the treasury side.

After successfully stonewalling the House the preceding day on the ground of absence of a white paper in respect to the official notice calling attention on killing of Laxmananand and consequent communal violence in Kandhamal that turned into exposing the government’s reluctance to provide the same for use as the base of debate, the Opposition on 11th December allowed the House to proceed so that its own version as well as the government’s could be kept on records and the reality could be known.

And, thus the House started to proceed on Kandhamal issue.

And, thus the House came to hear what the Deputy Leader of Opposition, Narasingha Mishra, known for clear comprehension and in-depth analysis of any issue in hand, was to say on Kandhamal.

Mishra began his speech by razing down the “rosy picture” painted by the initiator of the debate, government chief whip, B.K.Arukh on the present situation in Kandhamal. This district, he reminded the government, is one of the most backward districts of India, where Schedule Tribes constitute 52 per cent and Schedule Castes 17 per cent of its total population. But 90 per cent of its population perish Below-the-Poverty-Line (BPL) with an average per capita income of Rs.4, 743/- as against Rs.5,264/- in other districts of Orissa in the same segment, he showed from statistical reports. And roared, is it the evidence of development that the government boasts of? And then, as he proceeded, he cited certain documents on records in print media to show the darker side of the communal flare up at Kandhamal, the core issue of the particular debate.

Giving vent to his suspicion that Laxmananand’s murder might have been the BJP’s handiwork in executing its stratagem to cultivate communal support in approaching elections, he went ahead to support his apprehensions with circumstantial evidences, to the utmost discomfort of the BJP members of the treasury benches.

He cited newspaper reports to show how contemptuously Togadia of saffron combine had alleged that it was Chief Minister Navin Patnaik’s chilling nonchalance that had facilitated the murder of Laxmananand.

And, as bruised BJP members were at a loss to understand how to stop Mishra’s trigger, he went on to show how Laxmananand was a destroyer of societal solidarity in the affected district in the name of religion and how he was the arch villain behind the 1994 caste conflicts that in acrimony had surpassed every conceivable violence in that district.

Even as no action was taken against perpetrators of that crime against the community, it is the BJP’s alliance government that surreptitiously withdrew the security cover from Laxmananand before his murder in the night of August 23, 2008, although as many as 26 hours before the murder, he had informed the Police that there was threat to his life.

After the murder of Laxmanananda BJP has tried to use him posthumously for consolidation of its vote bank, but its coalition government has not net in the real murderer.

This, he said, points the needle of suspicion for the murder of Laxmananand to the BJP and its allies, which they might have done in thirst for votes.

He cited the instance of Kendrapara where a BJP leader had organized bombardment on the house of another leader of his own party with the motive to project the crime as an act of Muslims, so that communal passions ignited against the minority community could have helped the saffronists in having a new polarized vote bank in their favor. There is no reason not to see the same modus operandi in the murder of Laxmananand, Mishra thundered.

Referring to Togadia’s tirades as reported by the Press, Mishra wondered as to how and why the BJP Ministers sharing the dais with Togadia at that time were not taken to task for having not protested against the acerbic words hurled at their Chief Minister. Recitation of the reported words by Mishra was unbearable for the BJD members and even as they squealed, Mishra went ahead to cite Puri Sankaracharya who had alleged that it is the Chief Minister who alone should be held responsible for the murder. The CM, Mishra wondered, was unable to stop the crime as he was dependent on the Sangh Parivar to stay in power and the Sangh Parivar was to make a sacrifice of Laxmanananda at the altar of their ambition that could be fulfilled only through electoral politics. To put his apprehensions on a supportive base, he read out a letter of the Sangh Parivar that was pregnant with the conspiracy as published in a printed edition of Lokamat.

This was more than enough for the BJP members and their BJD allies to digest. They rushed into the well of the Hall demanding deletion of Mishra’s citations.

Under the waves of uproar that soon engulfed the House, Kalpataru Das of BJD was allowed to raise a point of order when Ms. Draupadi Murmu of BJP was in the Chair and as Das started saying, the microphone of Mishra was laid inoperative. The Opposition stood in protest and the pandemonium took a turn towards the worse. In that oral free for all environment inside the Hall, Bahinipati ventured the most condemnable offense against the Chair. He whisked out an earphone and hurled it at the august authority. Democracy was defiled as never before in the very heart of its throne.

Rightly he has been put under suspension. His is an offense that no lover of democracy can tolerate.

But it is also a fact that had the House not been goaded by the treasury bench members into the environment that precipitated the offense, what happened might not have happened at all.

If the peoples of the State are now unable to know the behind the screen reality that could have addressed appropriately to the issue put on agenda of the Assembly by the treasury side itself, whom to blame except the treasury side?

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