Naveen In Confusion

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

He took a helicopter to attend the marriage ceremony of the daughter of central minister Arjun Charan Sethy at later’s Balasore village but did not attend it. He came back to his residence and ordered the aids not to allow anybody- whatever be his position-to disturb him.

A few days later, the BJP high command had to prevail upon their state unit leaders to bear with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in order to protect the interests of Bajpai government at centre. That notwithstanding, BJP members of Orissa Assembly made a scathing attack on Patnaik for the lack of political acumen in running the state. His own party members did not spare him either. Most vociferous was the Government Chiefwhip.

He dropped four of his cabinet colleagues on charges of corruption in utter disregard to natural justice and fair play. It was found, the state by that day had not determined the charges to be levelled against them. The following endeavour of administration to frame charges has failed to show the gravity of the offences they had allegedly committed. As time elapses, the dropped ministers do gain public sympathy,their oustal being viewed as more capricious than fair.

He has allowed himself to continue as the Chief of BJD. Followers of Biju Patnaik had formed this political outfit and enthroned Naveen as their president, under whose cover they were eager to operate without any compunction. The party has not yet been able to acquaint all its members with its constitution, inasmuch as it has not yet printed the draft submitted to the Election Commission. Barring a very small number of its members who belong to the higher echelon of the party, all others are absolutely ignorant of the contents and provisions of their party constitution. Taking advantage of this, the party managers have declared him re-elected as the president. Consequently, he has appointed a team of Office-bearers most of whom are not acceptable to the general members of the party. Many of the office bearers themselves are also dissatisfied with the positions offered to them. It is clear that if the party could have come to the position of holding the election of office bearers, the present set might never have come to existence. Naveen is aware of this.

Having come to power to eliminate corrupt practices from administration, he has utterly failed to understand its operational methodology. Intelligence reports are reaching headquarters from every corner of the State carrying instances of misutilisation and unutilisation of the M.L.As’ Local Areas Development Funds. Most of the M.L.As stay most of the time of the year in the State capital in urban comfort. Almost all of the ministers have the bitterest experience of succumbing to the lobby of bureaucrats for posting in creamy positions, spearheaded through M.L.As, even as the Assembly seldom gets a member in perfect tune with its practices and procedures.and its legislative requirements.

Unmindful of such deterioration, the Naveen Patnaik government has cultivated a sanction of the House to provide the M.L.A.s with laptop computers. The cost factor apart, no assessment has ever been made into the ability of the M.L.As to handle the laptops. There are members who have not graduated even from high schools. Can they use the computers? Who can, and how, compel a member to undergo a training course to use a laptop computer? When the voters reject a member in subsequent election, should he surrender the machine or take it as a souvenir? If he shall have to surrender the same, should he do that without any damage? It seems, the government has not applied its mind to this. Then how this project involving more than a crore of rupees got passed notwithstanding stout shouts from the treasury benches that the citizenry of the state is to tolerate stringent cuts in welfare expenditure? It became possible because a relation of a heavyweight acolyte of Naveen is the disguised supplier of laptops. A reliable source says that Naveen has of late seen through the game, but he is unable to stop the scheme.

It is always alleged that he totally depends on a very small syndicate of bureaucrats in running the administration. He may be seriously embarrassed if the allegation raised in a writ case by a former electrical executive engineer R.K.Sahoo receives adequate judicial attention. In this case, the challenged order of the Chief Minister does not seem to have been written unwittingly. To dispose of a file with personal observations is the prerogative of a chief minister, but not to do so on a dotted line.

The ever willingness of Naveen Patnaik to sign on dotted lines has landed him in such a situation that the last session of the Assembly had to have the indecent distinction of being the first to witness its Speaker unambiguously uttering words like “change the government?” on the summit of members of the treasury benches, castigating their own ministry for failure in almost all fronts. The atmosphere was so tumultuous that the government could have collapsed had the Congress not moved a vote of no confidence.

The day might have been saved. But the condition has not improved. Most of his cabinet colleagues are surreptitiously engaged against each other, which has resulted in the impasse over panchayat election. Clearly, Naveen is in a state of confusion.

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