Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Sycophants of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik not only derailed the Assembly for two days from the zero hour of August 01 to zero hour of August 03, but also have interrupted proceedings in Indian parliament while staging bullying rallies almost daily at different places of Orissa over the issue of destruction of a statue of Biju Patnaik posing severe threats to public peace and tranquility and societal solidarity and democratic inviolability.
Birds of the same feather, the BJP, is an active partner in this offence against democracy, by being in alliance with BJD as well as being a party heavily dependant on deification of sectarian activists through erection of their statues in public places.
The main Opposition Party, the Congress, being itself a spreader of the same syndrome that afflicts the society with statues of its past leaders, has willfully or otherwise failed to look at the right issue.
Therefore, in interest of our people, and in approriate respect to the revolutionaries of August Nine whose dreams cannot be allowed to die, we ought to look at the issue involved.
The issue is: Whether destruction of Biju Patnaik’s statue in a public place constitutes a crime? Conversely it is: Whether construction of Biju Patnaik’s statue in a public place is not a crime?
In the first place, the destroyer of the statue of Biju Patnaik is not an iconoclast. Biju was not a deity worshipped by all the people of the land and has not been made a National Symbol by Law. The statue allegedly destroyed was not notified by Law as a National Monument. It was not decided by the people of Orissa through their representatives in the Assembly to be placed in a public place like the one where it was placed. It was not authorized by any Law to be placed where it was placed by a group of private persons. Therefore there was no official status of the statue. It was not a private construction on a private place. It was a private construction on a public place. So its destruction by any member of the public cannot be held as a crime against the State.
Now, the next.
Biju was a political person with a few friends and a lot of foes. In fact no politician can have friends only and no foes. So he had foes. So it is wrong to say that he was loved by all in Orissa and his statue must be respected by everybody.
Why should one expect that his foes would welcome erection of his statue in a public place? Have you any doubt as to whether he had any foe?
When he died what was he? He was he, whose Party was rejected by the people of Orissa. I repeat, rejected. His foes were manifold more than his friends. Therefore he was rejected.
He was the Chief Minister of Orissa from 05.03.1990 to 15.03.1995. As the Chief Minister he had wanted a fresh mandate to continue; but the people of Orissa had dismissed him. He was stripped of power and his Party was rejected, most of his confidantes thrown into the dustbin. He was forced to relinquish office by the people of Orissa.
As a journalist who had covered that election, I clearly remember the euphoria of the massive majority of the people of Orissa over his defeat. People were not very happy over Congress winning the election. To them, Congress was a Hobson’s choice. But they were absolutely happy and satisfied over their collective wisdom to refuse Biju Patnik a fresh mandate. So it is not at all a fact that he was the most beloved leader of Orissa whose statue shall have to be respected.
When he was alive, I had exposed him in mainstream media many a times. I would not have liked to delve into the dead man’s matters again. But the way the statue issue is threatening our democratic inviolability, I deem it my democratic duty to let the reality be taken note of afresh, so that deviltry does not find our motherland a free place to breed.
If you want to know of him deeply, you will see that he was so corrupt that people of Orissa, misled once into his shrewd traps, were wrathfully rejecting him for at least two consecutive terms in the subsequent Elections.
Let us see the records.
For the first time he came to power in 1961 by capturing 82 out of 140 seats in Orissa Assembly. Soon he emerged as the epitome of corruption and played treachery with the Country during the China aggression. He was the man who precipitated our defeat. Using Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he took the contract for transportation of supplies to our soldiers at NEFA through Kalinga Airways; but the commodities never reached the needing army. They were disposed off in the black market at Calcutta and Rangoon.
This having rocked the Parliament, a disconcerted Nehru appointed Mr. Kailashnath Katju to enquire into the allegations and report.
Katju found that the allegations were not incorrect.
But lest his own mistake in allotting the contract to Kalinga Airways gets discussed, Nehru conspired to burry the issue under the carpet of time. The Government claimed privilege over the Report in the name of Defense.
He told the House that Kalinga Airways was not traceable but assured to punish the guilty. That assurance never materialized. The Country helplessly watched that the pilots who were working in Kalinga Airways, died one after another, in accidents and thus all the direct witnesses to the heinous crime against the country were eliminated. The Katju Commission Report was never followed by appropriate action.
On the other hand, Orissa drowned under maladministration in every sphere. The mafia flourished. Eminent freedom fighter and revolutionary Pabitra Mohan Pradhan was physically assaulted by Biju as he protested against his corrupt practices. He transformed Congress into a synonym of corruption.
Record of Orissa Rejecting Biju time and again:
first rejection in 1967
People taught him, and the Congress Party for having protected him, a lesson in the General Election of 1967 by refusing the Congress even 23 per cent of the seats in the Assembly. Out of 140, Biju and his Congress Party somewhat survived in only 31 constituencies. Considered a curse, he was later ousted by the Congress.
But as every mafia has his own coterie, he had his own group of sycophants to form a new party. He styled it as Utkal Congress and started opposing the Congress as well as the Swatantra-Jana Congress combine then in power.
Rejected then in 1971
But the people of Orissa refused to entertain him. So, in 1971 election too they kept him clipped. His Utkal Congress won only 33 seats, which was not even 24 per cent of the seats of the House.
Rejected again in 1974
When elections were held in 1974, the people rejected him again.
He lost everywhere excepting in 35 constituencies constituting less than a mere 24 percent of total 147 seats of the Assembly (seven seats having increased by then).
This makes it abundantly clear that after coming to power in 1961 he ruined the State so much that people rejected him in three subsequent elections in 1967, 1971 and in 1974.
A look at the Loksabha position for the corresponding period makes the scenario more confirmed.
Soon after he had taken over as CM of Orissa, Elections to the 3rd Loksabha were held in 1962 wherein, under his stewardship, Congress had won record number of 14 seats out of 20 from Orissa’s Loksabha constituencies.
Rejected in Loksabha polls, 1967
But in the 1967 elections to the 4th Loksabha, it was reduced to less than the half and only those six, who were known as Biju baiters in the Congress, could win, meaning a total defeat of Biju.
Again in 1772 Loksabha polls
By the 5th Loksabha elections in 1972, Biju had changed his colors by floating his own Party of sycophants, the Utkal Congress. As the people of Orissa had rejected him in the 1971 election to the Assembly, they also rejected his candidates for the Loksabha. Only one person, Surendra Mohanty, who being a highly esteemed man of letters had a charisma of his own, could, however, win the single seat for Utkal Congress.
So it is proved that people of Orissa rejected Biju Patnaik in two consecutive elections to the Lokasbha subsequent to his first victory.
Reprieve came in 1977
Reprieve came for him in 1977 in the extraordinary aftermath of Emergency.
Indira Gandhi’s alliance with the Communists and siding with USSR was intolerable to USA. Therefore all the right-reactionaries in India were being cultivated against her under Jay Prakash Narain. The right-wing media was being profusely misused to confuse the general public and chaos was being encouraged.
The dastardly role media played against India while supporting J.P. in totality has not yet been accurately assessed. But it can be best comprehended from the very fact that J.P.’s call for “Partyless Democracy” was never questioned by media, the main source of common man’s political education.
How can Democracy be Partyless? Partylessness means choicelessness. If there is no scope for choice, choice between political economies, choice between class priorities, choice between plan programs, how can there be a democracy?
The media did not brood over it and did not allow the people to brood over; so utter was its deliberate design to enhance confusion. Pushing people into this confusion with the help of media, the rightists were getting united.
J.P. consolidated all the rabid rightists against the Congress under a common banner and a new nomenclature called the Janata Party.
And, under that unfathomable confusion, precipitated also by bitter experiences of how Sanjay Gandhi, the illegitimate power center of Emergency served by shrewd acolytes like Pranab Mukherjee had made a farce of our Democracy, people acquiesced into the new trap and whosoever got a Janata Ticket won the election. So in 1977 election, Biju bagged 110 seats for the Assembly and 16 seats for the Loksabha under Janata banner. But immediately thereafter, he resorted to his old tricks.
Sabotaged the 2nd Steel Plant
He preferred to join the Central Ministry putting Orissa under a protege. It was easy for him to capture the Steel portfolio. After occupying this portfolio he sabotaged the prospect of 2nd Public Sector Steel Plant in Orissa. Those who have not watched Biju in action may find it difficult to believe it. But it was the reality. I know it, because I am the man who had initiated the movement for the 2nd Steel Plant.
Around a decade prior to Biju taking over Union Steel Ministry, when R.N.Singh Deo was the Chief Minister of Orissa, I had submitted a memorandum co-signed by my friend Ghasiram Majhi to Government of India through the Governor of Orissa demanding a 2nd Steel Plant for Orissa. I was then the Secretary of the Cuttack district unit of the Swatantra Party and in order to spread its influence into the heartland of progressive politics at that time, i.e. Jajpur, I had demanded the 2nd Steel plant in that area.
Fortunately for me, the then ruling Swatantra Party had supported my stand and the then Industry Minister Harihar Patel had taken my help to draw up a memorandum that he was eager to submit to the central government in his ministerial capacity. Eventually it was decided that Govt. of Orissa should officially submit the memorandum to the Union government. In that memorandum there was a temporal defect due to an unnoticed typographical mistake. Biju Patnaik had raised a public agitation against that defect and continued attacking R.N.Singh Deo on the ground that he was not interested for prompt establishment of the 2nd steel plant. I was soon pushed into oblivion in that war of words between Singh Deo and Biju.
However, with this background, when Biju Patnaik became the Union Steel Minister, I was eager to watch the dream come true. It did not come. Because it was not to come.
A 2nd Steel Plant in Orissa could have affected the Tata Empire at that time.
Keeping in mind Biju’s expressed support to our demand for the 2nd Steel Plant, it was quite natural for the Tatas to be worried about what would happen to their mining stakes in Orissa. Nothing could have pleased them more than Biju, the Union Steel Minister, abandoning Orissas 2nd Steel Plant idea.
A.B.Vajpayee, Murali Manohar Joshi and Rudra Prasanna Sadangi, the erstwhile Jansanghis in the Janata Dal, were close to the Tata house. They had also good rapport with Biju Patnaik.
Biju played such a trick that 2nd Steel plant idea was not only abandoned, but also the black market got flooded with the Tata Steel products.
What was the trick?
He issued an order for idling 50% production capacity of Public sector Steel Plants including the Rourkela Steel Plant on the ground that steel economy would shatter unless their production is reduced by half.
When thus existing plants were debarred from using half of their production capacity, where was the necessity of establishing another plant? So Orissa’s case for the 2nd Steel Plant was thrown into the dustbin and Tata’s interest was kept in tact.
But in course of time, bickering over sharing the booty started.
Sadangi who, elected from Jamshedpur, was the man to have arranged the negotiation between Tata Steel and Biju Patnaik, threatened to expose the nexus if he was not given his 10% share of the multi-crore payola bagged from Tata in the deal that he had negotiated and finalized. Biju did not buzz. The Vajpayee-Joshi-Sadangi trio told Prime Minister Morarji Desai of the secret deal and prompted him to make a query so that the Janata Party coffer could get enough energy.
Sabotaged the Morarji Ministry
A special meeting of the Janata Parliamentary Party was convened on 12 April 1979. Biju Patnaik was asked to explain why he had clamped idleness on the public sector steel industries when the black market in steel was in full spate, getting heavy supply from Tata Steel.
As was his wont, Biju tried to cow down others by shouting at them. Moraji shout back, “don’t raise your voice as it was of no use”. Joshi had initiated the debate against Biju in the JPP executive, where no body wanted to protect him. The offence was not unknown to any.
Sadangi was asked to make the allegations formally so that specific action could be initiated. This he also did.
The JPP Executive appointed one of their members from Rajsthan, Justice (Rtd) Mr. R. Gattani to enquire into the allegations.
Then how Rajnarayan was used to instigate Choudhury Charan Singh to claim the post of Prime Minister, how justice Gattani could not proceed, and how before he could proceed Morarji was pulled down from the post of PM and how all allegations against Biju could got lost with his old pal Charan Singh occupying the coveted post is a matter of history.
So, in fact, instead of being a contributor to creation of the first non-Congress government in the Center as his sycophants want everybody to believe, he was the real killer of it. The right-wing conglomerate collapsed at the height of all round corruption and self-aggrandizement and the Country was burdened with another election within three years, in 1980.
Rejected in both the polls,1980
People of Orissa, who were silently watching this subterfuge, beat Biju black and blue in the polls. He was refused even nine per cent of the Assembly seats. His party (Janata-S) got only 13 seats including one for himself in the Assembly and all his candidates for the 7th Loksabha, 1980, were rejected.
Rejected in Loksabha polls,1984
Despite many instances of misgovernance by Congress, people of Orissa were so angry with Biju that they rejected all his candidates again for the 8th Loksabha in 1984.
Rejected again in Assembly polls,1985
Next year, i.e. in 1985, elections were held for Orissa Assembly. People of Orissa rejected Biju Patnaik again. He got only 19 seats, which was less than 13 per cent of the total seats.
Thus after occupying power under the utter confusion J.P. movement had created in 1977, he was consciously rejected by the people of Orissa in three consecutive elections held in 1980, 1984 and 1985.
Then again he grabbed a chance to power.
Rajib Gandhi was taken in as Prime Minister when the Nation was mourning the assassination of his mother Indira. A novice, he was soon surrounded by sycophants and power-brokers without knowing how to extricate himself from their clutch. It is evident from how he had to accommodate and elevate R.K.Dhawan, the man who was attracting the needle of suspicion in Indira’s murder, to higher echelon of power. So such a novice was soon to fall in the traps laid by the crooks. One of these traps was the Bofors Gun deal. Whether or not V. P. Singh masterminded this trap is not known. But known is the fact that he being the Union Finance Minister raised an allegation of kickbacks in the deal implying Rajiv Gandhi. People believed. They rose against Rajiv raj. Rajiv resigned. V. P. Singh emerged as the new hero. He left the Congress and floated a new combine of non-Congress elements under a new name, Janata dal. And, to acquire political credibility, made a coalition with the Communists.
Grabs power in 1990
Biju Patnaik grabbed the opportunity and joined this new party. People, determined to punish the Congress, voted for V.P. and therefore, Biju bagged 16 seats for the Loksabha from Orissa in 1989. V.P. became the Prime Minister on 02.12.1989 and put Orissa on a new anvil for Assembly in 1990. As was bound to happen in that peculiar condition, people gave Janata dal 123 seats for the Assembly, which Biju exploited to become the Chief Minister on 05. 03. 1990.
It is well known that crooks use masks to occupy power by misleading the gullible public. Once in power, they shed their masks. Biju had used the promise for the 2nd Steel Plant as his mask in electioneering. He shed it quite clumsily. He brought U.K. based industrialist Swaraj Paul to Orissa, introduced him and his son Angad to the people of Orissa, who, he said, would establish the long cherished 2nd Steel Plant in the private sector. But Paul backed out. He went on blaming Paul in the harshest possible manner, while boasting that he would find out other industrialists for the purpose. Paul stated that the real reason of his backing out was Biju Patnaik’s insistence on commissioning of second hand machineries offered by a German firm. Biju did not dare to counter. I had discussed this in serial articles starting 15 July 1994 in Sambad wherein I had placed before the public how he was in the habit of using his political position for a German firm dealing with second hand equipments on commission basis.
As I have discussed above, he was never interested in establishing the 2nd Steel Plant in Orissa. He was in the habit of using it as a ploy for hoodwinking the people. So when he brought Swaraj Paul to Orissa for introduction, he was not serious about the Steel Plant. He was serious about two different things, One, to facilitate commissioning of used German machines and two, to use Swaraj Paul as a tool to bring the people of Orissa to an accommodative mood for privatization.
Hence, after the Swaraj Paul episode was over, he concentrated on privatization of electricity. He killed the public sector Orissa State Electricity Board and in the name of pro-consumer reforms, he transformed his calculated mission of handing over our core sector to foreign operators, particularly to the firms having USA or UK links. This he did against heavy kickbacks. One instance would suffice.
Scam: an instance
He appointed a consultancy firm of London namely K.P.M.G. Management Consultancy as a consultant for privatization of electricity. The firm demanded around 23 crore of Rupees for the purpose. Biju demanded a kickback to the tune of Rs.10 crores. And to facilitate it, the consultancy fees was enhanced to Rs. 33 crores (Rs.32,18,47,690 .00 exactly). Later it transpired that, under Section 115(a) of Income Tax Act of India, the said consultancy firm being a foreign firm, was bound to pay 30 percent of its total income as Income Tax. Hence it was to pay Rs.9,77,66,500.00, say, around Rs.10 crores towards Income Tax which was unavoidable and deductible at the source. Had it been bound to pay the said amount of Income Tax out of the 33 crores, the amount would have been reduced to Rs. 23 crores which was its minimum demand. It was unable to grease Biju’s hand with Rs. 10 crores as demanded by him. Hence a new method was invented. Biju decided that the Income Tax payable by the firm would be born by Orissa Government. Accordingly this condition was recorded at para 19 of the agreement executed with this firm. Then there was no difficulty for the firm to pay Rs. 10 crores to Biju Patnaik as kickback.
Once this arrangement was finalized in the private zone of Biju Patnaik, Laws of the land were bulldozed out to help this firm. To begin with, para 6.3.15 of the Works Code that stipulates that there must be a global tender for every work costing more than Rs.50 lakhs was thrown into the dustbin. The firm was granted crores of Rupees as advance in stark contravention of the stipulations at 3.7.21 of the Works Code as well as Finance Department Circular No, 106/92/44133 dated 16.10.1992. The stipulation is that a contractor or a consultancy firm can be granted an advance only on the condition of realization of interest at the rate of 18 per cent over the money advanced. Officers were asked to ignore this stipulation and extend all cooperation as the firm should be demanding.
The method Biju was using to fleece the state exchequer was mind-bungling. He was doing this in the name of development! And puppets in the Press as well as the birds of the same feather in the Opposition were refusing to look at it.
But in the process of this, the entire administration was getting thwarted into anarchy. He knew that he would fleece the people and there should be acute resentment. So to divert public attention from his failing, he started pointing accusing fingers at the Executive. He resorted to the most irresponsible manner of blaming the bureaucracy for misgovernance and called on the people to beat up officials when any of them was found negligent. Situation became so unbearable that government employees decided to give him a treat in the way he was encouraging for all the maladministration he had infested Orissa with. They thrashed the Chief secretary R. N. Das, and physically assaulted Biju in the Secretariat itself on 06.05.1993. After that he of course dropped his “beat-the-official” formula but people had to wait to thrash him in the polls.
Rejected in 1995, again in 1996
So, when election of 1995 came, he was thrashed. People refused to grant him a fresh mandate. His Party which had bagged 123 seats in 1990, was rejected in 101 Assembly constituencies in 1995.
Came the General elections for the Loksabha in 1996. Out of 21 constituencies, people of Orissa rejected his candidates in 18 constituencies.
So again, he was rejected twice after gaining once. Had he not passed away on 17. 04.1997, he would have faced the rejection again.
In view of this, it is absolutely wrong to say that he was the man whom all the Oriyas loved and whose statue must be revered by all for all time to come.
He was a politician and had a vast many number of foes. He had rivals in his own organization and opponents in public life. There are many people who hate him because they know how he sabotaged our country during China aggression; how he, as the Union Steel Minister, sabotaged our dreams for the 2nd Steel Plant in public sector; to tell the least. Why should they respect his statue? Why he to whom Biju Patnaik personified corruption and treachery would tolerate installation of his statue in a public place?
It is undisputable that he was a hero for his sycophants. They may worship him in their private campuses if or as they like. If a Biju admirer erects his statue in his/her bed room or even in the bath room or if he or she has a prayer room, there, there is no reason for any body to raise any objection. But why should his statue be imposed on everybody being placed in a public place?
The tricks his son and followers play are not limited to erection of his statute in public places only. In fact, they feel very unsafe in absence of Biju. He was their godfather. After his demise, none of them could dare to claim legitimacy to leadership of the pack he had created. This is why, his son Naveen was picked up by them to be used as a mask. But convinced that the pack’s survival depends on the projected charisma of his father, he has assumed autocratic position in the party named after his father and in the Government, is misusing his position to ensure that as many official projects as possible are named after Biju, with intention to project him as the only benefactor of the people when alive, so that Naveen as the inheritor could continue to cultivate public support. In this purposeful game of putting priority on deification of Biju after his demise in a rejected condition, even the most revered of Orissa’s cremation grounds – the Swargadwara at Puri – has been shrunk to erect a tomb in his name. This is a sheer selfish political mischief, designed to enhance Biju’s posthumous importance and wipe out from mass mind, in course of time, the nasty game he had played against the people of this State, for which they were, as shown above, time and again rejecting him. Swargadwara is intrinsically linked to Sri Jagannatha and devotees of the deity are ordained to pay respect to this burning ground, believed to be the gateway to emancipation. Whoever brings a dead-body for cremation here, takes a bath in the Mahodadhi – the sea; and is bound to come across the Biju tomb with his name inscribed on the gate on the sea side as well as on the tomb itself. It tremendously helps resurrecting Biju as a posthumous political force.
It seems, as people have tolerated this foul play, Naveen and his associates are trying to transform Biju into a cult figure. Since some days they have been harping on a strange phenomenon, captioned by them as dreams of Biju Patnaik. I had a close watch on him for many decades and as I have watched, his only dream was self-aggrandizement. So, seeking mandate to finish “unfinished dreams” of Biju Patnaik is a fraud being played on the people of Orissa. And to play this fraud with sure success an agenda is being vigorously pursued to deify Biju so that in his name opponents could be silenced.
Destruction of Biju statue in a village followed by Naveen Patnaik charging his party MLAs to block the Assembly and his MPs to interrupt the Parliament in violation of all legislative norms and bullying rallies by BJD activists at various nerve centers of Orissa in protest against the so-called destruction constitute parts of this agenda. It is a neo-Nazi agenda and right thinking people who cannot allow their patriotism to be subdued must rise against this.
Erection of statues of Biju and his likes in public places should be banned as posthumous deification of a politician whom people had rejected many a times including at the last time of his life is a bullying conspiracy against Democracy. And, hence a crime.