What do our M.P.s do?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If Arjun Singh’s agenda goes clockwise, Bhopal shall have a Central University very soon. But no Central University can be established without the Parliament making a Law in its respect. Hence, the Parliament shall have to assize for establishment of a Central University at Bhopal.

Here the Members of Parliament from Orissa have a role to play. They must ask the HRD Minister as to why he has ignored Orissa.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in a state of fidgetiness over exposure of his indifference to Orissa’s interests in Higher Education, specifically in the NIS case, has urged upon the Union Government to allot a Central University to the KBK zone of Orissa. If Orissa M.P.s, majority of who belongs to Naveen and his ally BJP, take up the matter with Arjun Singh, it may so happen that the union government while placing before the Parliament the required Bill for establishment of a Central University at Bhopal, also place another Bill in favor of Orissa.

In fact, Orissa’s claim for a Central University has been pending since 1991.

Orissa had moved the Union Government in 1991 for upgradation of Utkal University to the status of Central University. But the concerned Ministry, vide letter No.14-71/90 UI on 7 May 1991, stashed it as the Union then did not favour setting up of “any new University”.

Biju Patnaik, as Chief Minister, had failed to deliver a better government than the Congress. Collection of commission was the single point program that had kept every echelon engaged.

The Commissionists and the Communists had made strange bedfellows in Orissa. Therefore no credible politician was available to oppose what Biju Patnaik was doing.

The State was plunged into utter confusion and administration was replaced by misadministration.

Collection of commission was going on so shamelessly that suffocated supporters of Biju Patnaik had started clandestine campaigns against him within his party within a year of his occupying power. He had to reshuffle his Cabinet three times by end of 1991 under such circumstances. You may recall, he had assumed charge of office on 15 March 1990. He had to reshuffle his cabinet on 24 July 1990. The 2nd reshuffle occurred on 01 January 1991 and the third reshuffle on 04 December 1991. This indicates in what sort of political uncertainty he had fallen despite massive majority in the Assembly by the year 1991.

The IAS officers had collectively defied his orders to the extent of challenging him in the High Court in the matter of property list.

Liquor mafia Belu was looming large and commission agents had arrived in the administrative horizon as a new segment of power-wielders whose whims and caprices were being carried out as law.

To demoralize the officers who were not willing to dance to the tune of commission agents he was calling upon the people to beat up any officer they find non-cooperative.

How devastative was its impact was amply demonstrated when Biju Patnaik himself and his Chief Secretary-on-extension Rabi Das got thrashed in the Secretariat by their own staff.

Thus Orissa being in utter chaos under Biju Patnaik between 1990 and 1995, the Union Government’s refusal to accept the State’s requests for a Central University got lost in the labyrinth of administrative apathy in Bhubaneswar’s corridors of power and therefore, we could not protest.

We could have raised the issue afresh when the Central Government decided to establish Central Universities elsewhere and the Parliament adopted Bills in that respect. But our representatives in Parliament, once in Delhi, get so much musti in other matters that none of them could raise Orissa’s pending case.

The Central Government established three Central Universities in the year of 1994 by virtue of Acts made by the Parliament: one in Nagaland at Kohima and two in Assam at Silchar (Assam University) and at Napaam (Tezpur University) in addition to the Central University (North-Eastern Hill University) established at Shillong in 1973. Where was the difficulty in having one for Orissa for which proposal was submitted to the Central government in 1991?

But Biju Patnaik had no time for this. He was busy in big things like handing over Orissa’s core sector to the American concern A.E.S.! He was to run after Swaraj Paul. He was to support his cabinet colleague Damodar Raut for his macho manners when the Commission for Women had found him guilty of sexual assault on Smt. Basanti Bara, elected Chairperson of Kutra Panchayat Samiti! He was to do many such splendid acts. Where was time for Orissa’s higher education? Orissa’s bureaucracy was too self-centric to bother either. And, ask any Member of Parliament as to what did he do to attract Parliament’s attention to the Union Government’s refusal to Orissa’s proposal for a Central University when it was setting up two additional such Universities in a single State, you will never get an answer. Because, none of them had bothered to agitate for Orissa.

Look now at Uttar Pradesh. It had two Central Universities, viz. Banaras Hindu University at Varanasi and Aligarh Muslim University at Aligarh. In 1994 a new University styled as Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University was established at Rae Bareli Road, Lucknow. The Central Government elevated it to the status of a Central University within only two years in 1996 by an Act of the Parliament. No M.P. from Orissa raised our State’s claim before the Bill was passed.

Let us go to Andhra Pradesh. The Hyderabad University at Hyderabad is a Central University since 1974. But in 1997, the Central Government established another Central University there styled as Maulana Azad National Urdu University through the Parliament. What did Orissa M.P.s do at that time? Why did they not raise Orissa’s pending issue?

In the year 1997, the Central Government established two Central Universities with respective Acts made by the Parliament. The other one namely Mahatma Gandhi Antaraashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya was established at Wardha in Maharastra.

Mizoram got a Central University called Mizoram University at Aizawal in 2001. We had no problem in supporting the Bills in Parliament in this respect. But was there any difficulty for agitating for Orissa’s cause, specifically when our claim for a Central University had been strangulated by the Union Government as far back as on 07 May 1991 on the ground that the Union was no more interested in setting up of new Universities?

When setting up of new Universities are going on by the Central Government, Orissa is being ignored. In the current year, i.e.2005, an Act of Parliament upgraded the University of Allahabad to Central University status. Why did the Orissa M.P.s kept their lips closed when the Parliament passed this Bill?

What do our M.P.s do?

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