Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Puri, the citadel of secular culture, has rejected communal elements in the Panchayat elections. Not a single candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won a seat within the jurisdiction of Puri Panchayat Samiti.
Eager to assess its own strength, the BJP had decided to fight the Panchayat polls in Orissa all alone. It had even decided to set candidates against the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in as many places as possible so that its strength vis-?-vis the later could be determined. It was eager to use the Panchayat polls to show that its credibility has spread in the State. Therefore it was eager to mobilise as much public support in its favour as possible. Communalisation of mass psyche need not be mentioned as the method of BJP for such a purpose.
With this motive it had organised a blatantly communal camp christened as ‘amruta mahotsava’ in the city of Puri under the umbrage of R.S.S. Puri was selected as the venue with meticulous calculations. The BJP knows that it is weak in Orissa because the land is strongly influenced by Jagannath Culture. Oriyas are born and brought up under the tradition of respecting Muslim poet Sal Baig as the ‘Bhakta Kavi’ par excellence. To them ‘Javana Hari Das’, by birth a Muslim, is a saint to be revered for ever. As long as the people accept the tenets of the ‘Mahodadhi Civilisation’ they shall remain secular in day to day practice and character. Therefore the heart of this civilisation, Puri, was targeted by the communalists.
The ‘amrut mahotsava’ was held with overwhelming fan fare. Communal slogans rented the air. But as the ‘Mahodadhi’ assimilates every stream that tries to influence it, so Puri assimilated the communalists who wanted to sacrilege its total secular character.
The panchayat election is a pointer to this. Not a single BJP candidate has won in Puri block. The communal forces have failed to conquer it. At least, at the moment.