CONGRESS IN SUICIDE MODE: BIZARRE BUSINESS IN ORISSA POLITICS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

As visualized in these pages, specifically on January 10, the Orissa unit of the Congress party has gobbled the killer dose that its lady autocrat wanted administered in order to help Navin win the coming elections.

The business looks bizarre. But this is the reality. For success of the POSCO design, Navin’s continuance in power in Orissa is a necessity for the empire of free economy. And, a dedicated worker of that empire, the lady autocrat of the Congress party, is not supposed to act against its interest. So, in Orissa, the main Opposition to Navin misrule, the Congress had to be subjected to a situation that should push it into utter confusion and internecine quarrels and preempt its expected gain from negative votes against the incumbent Government, as exactly had happened in the last general elections.

And, under this stratagem, the lady autocrat through her Subedars sent from Delhi has shown that as far as the Congress party is concerned, her whims and caprices are more important than the collective dreams, desires and wisdom of Congress members of Orissa and their sympathizers and supporters.

So, the State Unit President Jayadev Jena and the Leader of Opposition J.B. Pattanaik had to go. And, as docile as cats, they tendered their resignations on demand.

Now, when Rama Chandra Ulaka has instantly been made the Leader of Opposition on January 24, the lady autocrat will “appoint” whomsoever she wants in the post of the State unit President from her citadel at Delhi.

Ulaka belongs to the segment of scheduled tribes. When he was Minister of tribal welfare in 1998, tribal members of his own party had raised allegations against him over his patronization to corruption in the department. An officer who was censored in File No. TD (1) AP-61/96 quite severely for having ruined the poultry and other demonstrative projects run in the tribal welfare ground at Bhubaneswar and against whom the official auditors had recommended exemplary punishment was rewarded with promotion by Ulaka. But the nastiness of the modus operandi he had adopted to promote the tainted officer is a matter to be marked to evaluate his posting as Leader of Opposition on the matrix of probity that a political party should be exhibiting in the year of elections.

Under the Rules of Business, the promotion File was to go through Ulaka’s junior colleague, Gajadhar Majhi, the Minister of State in the Welfare department. When Majhi went through the File he marked the audit reports and objected to the proposed promotion of the tainted officer, who, according to audit observations, had savagely sabotaged the tribal welfare projects under his control. But in view of Ulaka’s overriding support to the proposed promotion, the then Deputy Chief Minister Basant Kumar Biswal had thought it prudent to place the entire matter before Chief Minister J.B.Pattanaik on 12 October 1996 and, J.B. on watching the enormity of impropriety involved, in his notes on 21 Nov. 1996 wanted Ulaka to come to him with the File for discussion. Ulaka did not go to the CM and slept over the File till the matter was forgotten. He, however, issued orders to the departmental secretary to desist from sending all files to the Minister of State under the rules of Business and ensured that Sri Majhi gets no further opportunity to raise any objection over the promotion in the concerned File. After lapse of long seven months, obstacles thus eliminated, he placed a new file before the CM suppressing earlier objections and got the promotion approved. Tribal MLAs, even of the Congress party, were visibly irritated over such tricks played by their own Minister to reward a person, who had evidently resorted to rampant corruption and ruined the tribal projects under the very nose of the Secretariat as unveiled by audit.

With such a person posted as the Leader of Opposition, what message the lady autocrat of the Congress party has given?

The message is so coded that without being asked for on records, deputy Leader of Opposition, Narasingha Mishra, who was perhaps the ablest person in that post the Congress could have planted, has resigned along with the party whip Satya Bhusan Sahoo.

Apparently the Congress is in the suicide mode. The scenario would be clear after she “appoints” the new President for the state unit.

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