Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Scheduled business in Orissa Legislative Assembly was abraded on July 7 as the Speaker had to adjourn the House twice over Opposition demand for an inquiry by a House Committee into the assault on democracy involving Ramesh Raut, MLA from Athgarh.
The controversial MLA is not a crossbencher. He was officially adopted by BJD during electioneering and hence very much a part of the treasury benches. So the treasury benches cannot but be responsible for his conduct as a member of the House.
After becoming a member of the House consequence upon oath taking, he squandered away time till 19th June and signing on that day a resignation letter allegedly on dotted lines, he handed over the same to the newly elected Speaker at his residence in the company of BJD hoodlums on June 20.
Undisclosed sources informed a section of selected media after a couple of days that though forced to submit resignation letter, Raut has promptly informed the Speaker that he would withdraw the same.
The Speaker maintained that he had not received any such communication even as no action was taken by him on the resignation letter.
Raut went underground causing rambling rumors that his life was in danger. Selected media persons were made to meet his wife in her parents’ place to carry stories of how she and her children were brought over there by the MLA to preempt danger to their lives.
Police teams were pressed to fetch him from his hideout and his father had to file FIR in Police airing his tearful fears over his son’s safety.
R.P.Swain, politically butchered by BJD with a fake ticket, was cautiously focused as the mastermind behind Raut’s resignation as that would pave the way for his return to the Assembly.
Attempts to destroy Swain’s public image were rampant inasmuch as the peoples were being fed with speculations that Raut was kept under arrest by the former where he was to stay till his resignation was accepted.
The Speaker added force to the gravity of the case by issuing summons to Raut warranting his presence to place his version on the ongoing controversy over his resignation and when he appeared before him in response to the summon, Police went wild in whisking him away from the Speaker’s chamber.
To the Press the Speaker however told that from Raut’s averments he got the impression that Swain had crafted the resignation letter that no more was in force, as the member has preferred to withdraw the same.
But surprisingly, at the official guesthouse, where the Police had kept him under guards, he told the media that Swain was never involved with his resignation. He made it clear that Swain never kept him under arrest and that the FIR filed by his father was based on misconception.
Swain has also emphatically stated that neither he not his supporters have ever put any pressure on Raut to resign.
Who then had made him resign and eventually withdraw the same in absence of acceptance thereof by the Speaker?
Where then had he really stayed during the intervening period when media was hinting at Swain to have kept him arrested in some secret den?
Why the Chief Minister, who as BJD boss had adopted him as his party candidate and invested his party funds for his victory, was silent on his resignation and disappearance for the entire period, even though Raut was already on records to have revealed that he had to resign by signing on dotted lines under pressure of BJD stalwarts?
The peoples of Orissa deserve unambiguous answers to these questions. Naturally therefore the Opposition wanted the Assembly to locate the truth.
A member’s resignation under unauthorized pressure is certainly indicative of severe assault on democracy.
It should have been proper for the Chief minister to place details of the sordid development by way of a statement in the House while invoking collective wisdom of members to ensure non-recurrence of such assault on democracy. As he did not volunteered a statement, the Opposition stressed on constitution of a House Committee to inquire into the matter and to suggest remedial measure. But this did not happen. On the other hand, Raut made a statement that was different from what he had stated before the Speaker in his chamber. Either of his statements is vitiated with the mischief of disrespect for the House.
The Congress members expressed deep concern over deterioration of democratic dignity and insisted upon formation of a House Committee to investigate into the matter. But the treasury side opposed. The House was successively adjourned twice under pandemonium to no benefit of democracy as suppression of facts emerged as the Mantra of the rulers of the day.