Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Some of my readers, quite well-meaning and noble, while appreciating the factuality in my published accounts on Biju Patnaik, have observed that I am somewhat biased against a legendary leader like him inasmuch as I have not condemned the vandalization of his statue, even though he had donated all his assets to Orissa, as they have heard and believe. Therefore, the subject deserves attention, yet again.
I was exposing Bijubabu’s misdeeds when he was alive, and specifically in power. Since his demise I was silent on him. But his son and his sycophants have resurrected him to a sphinx, on which, in interest of democracy, people must be made fully informed. As a journalist I have tried to honor people’s right to be informed as a part of my duty by showing him as he was when alive, so that democracy does not get derailed. Hence there is no question of any bias.
As I understand, Press is that pillar of democracy on which the other three pillars depend to be looked into and looked after by the people, as otherwise democracy cannot survive.
So to me as a journalist, it is a disservice to democracy if position factor of a person eclipses my observation. Disinterring a person whose conduct did not commensurate with the tenets of democracy and whose posthumous use poses a threat to democracy cannot be interpreted as a bias against him. It is a democratic duty one has pledged himself to and is discharged at much risk.
Misuse of public place
I have emphasized that if followers of any political leader want to worship their master, let them do that in their respective homes, not in places that belong also to their rivals.
Destruction of Biju statue has proved that there are people who are not tolerating the use of a public place for his posthumous image-building. Today they have destroyed one statue; tomorrow or day after, there may be more. It would shatter public peace and tranquility. So, every action that gives birth to such reactions should be discouraged. If there will be no Biju statue in a public place there shall be no vandalizing of the same. Vandalization of a statue arises only when a public place is vandalized by its erection. So whosoever erects such statues in a public places is an agent provocateur against democracy and should be basically responsible for any breach of public peace over the statue. This I have said without any bias.
A question has arisen as to whether it does not tell upon a civilized society when statue of a leader is destroyed.
Mafia thrives through legends
Everything that glitters is not gold. Similarly every body who occupies power at some point of time is not a leader. No proof is necessary to show that traitors are treated by their followers as leaders. So whosoever is shown as a leader is not a leader of our people. There is a distinct difference between political acrobats like Biju Patnaik and democrats like Mr. Madhusudan Das. People take pride in paying respect to Madhubabu’s statue. If some body has taken pride in vandalizing the Biju statue erected in a public place, he cannot be blamed, because to him, Biju was a political acrobat, whom people had rejected time and again.
And, in India, a new era of punishing political acrobats has commenced. We are unable to stop it and we cannot stop it; because, people derive satisfaction in punishing, even if posthumously, the political acrobats who acted or act for self-aggrandizement under the mask of meretricious concern for wellbeing of the people.
A decade ago Durga Puja, specifically in Orissa, was an occasion of reaffirmation of our commitment to noble qualities and to fight against the evil. Now it has emerged as an occasion for RAVANA PODI. People, more and more, year after year, are joining the event of burning of the effigy of RAVANA, the greatest political acrobat ever depicted by the PURANAS. In the pages of RAMAYANA, there are hundreds of instances of good deeds done by RAVANA. He was admittedly the greatest sage of his time, who had been granted boons by all the Gods. He had acquired expertise in flying a very unique aircraft called PUSPAKA VIMANA, the like of which was nowhere available and flying in that aircraft, he had subjugated the three worlds. He had engaged Gods as his personal servants and defeated even the most ferocious of them, the Lord Shiva. Being so powerful, had he wanted to rape Sita, he could have done so; but he never did it, so considerate was he. So, he had many noble and note-worthy qualities and he was the man from whom, even in the last moment of his life, his victor RAMA had preferred to learn the last lesson on politics. He was so magnanimous that even though he knew that RAMA was to use the SETU to attack him, he had accepted his invitation to conduct the foundation stone laying rituals. He was undoubtedly the most charismatic one amongst all the characters Valmiki had created. The RAMAYANA has several descriptions of how he had innumerable admirers. But now, after so many years of his death, our people are burning down his effigies. And, we do not object. This is because, he was the Mafia of RAMAYANA, the political acrobat.
Biju was charismatic; but he was the first Mafia to have entered into and polluted Indian politics. As I have shown, most of the people of Orissa had rejected him. So imposing him over the people through erection of his statues and lunching official programs in his name is bound to be rebuked by many. Just like people indulge in RAVANA PODI, people will indulge in vandalizing his statues if presence of those in a public place poses a challenge to their democratic prudence.
Mafia thrives only through legends. And legends are legends because they are contrary to realities.
An esteemed reader to whom Bijubabu was the legendary leader of Orissa has informed that he has heard and believes that Biju had donated his assets to Orissa. There is no surprise in the fact that he doesn’t know that Biju had not donated his assets to Orissa. Donation was a propaganda generated by Bijubabu himself and spread by his agents to cheat the people. In fact, Biju had tried to cover up one of his shady deals, which we shall peep into later, with a letter to the Union Planning Minister, asserting therein that the deal was “a GIFT to the State Company without any direct payment whatsoever, for the benefit of the industrial and technical development of the State of Orissa”. And the letter was systematically spread amongst the public through a tamed set of media persons and through organized debates in the Parliament and Assembly. The word “GIFT” got so much publicity that those who were not privy to the records started believing that Bijubabu had gifted away his assets to Orissa.
Let us go to the records.
Biju a commission agent
Biju had entered into an agreement with a German firm KO-WE Niederschtofen G.m.b.H. Bad Godesberg (Godesberg) on 31 August 1954 to promote the said company’s Low Shaft Furnace (LSF) Plants in India on handsome royalty over the Plants he should be promoting and a preferential royalty of 2 per cent for all the Low Shaft Furnace Plants established and operated by himself or his associated companies per annum over the selling price of their molten products for a period of ten years.
He applied for license and loan guarantee to establish a LSF Plant. Orissa’s industrial advisor H.B.Mohanty, in his note on 3 Nov.1954, pointed out that manufacture of pig-iron by LSF would not be commercially viable as it would cost Rs.140 per ton whereas the production cost in ordinary blast furnaces comes around Rs.80/- The industry secretary, after examining the matter deeply, specifically in view of the adverse note of the advisor, noted on 24 Oct. 1957 that the advisor was absolutely correct and the LSF method will not succeed; hence the State Government should neither recommend for the license nor stand guarantee for the loan he will be taking.
Mahtab was the Chief Minister. He had dubious relationship with a Bombay woman called Ms. Sophy Kelly whom Kendu leaf contractors were also using to obtain favors from Mahtab. Biju was well aware of this. He also knew how Mahtab had helped Md. Serajuddin in mine matters in blatant disregard to Rules and Policies in force.
On the other hand, Mahtab was running a minority government with only 56 members in a 140 member Assembly. Biju threatened Mahtab with the stick of Ms. Kelly and Md. Sirajuddin while hurling before him the carrot of support he was capable of acquiring through horse trading and thus blackmailed him to use his prerogative as the Chief Minister to recommend him for the license and to ensure Government guarantee by over-ruling the adverse notes of both the industrial advisor and secretary, which Mahtab immediately complied.
Nehru could not be captured
But the Plant, christened Kalinga Industries, as predicted, suffered heavy loss. Biju wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nehru on 30 June 1960 pleading him for permission to expand the Plant and to establish LSF Plants in other States for production of pig iron so that major Steel Plants may get tempted to divert to steel manufacturing exclusively. Had Nehru agreed he would have got more loan and profuse royalty from the German firm as per agreement noted supra. But Nehru did not respond.
Strategy cooked up
When in such a labyrinthine situation, he cooked up a strategy to capture the Chief Minister post so that he can use the State to his advantage. He persuaded Mahtab to agree to have a coalition with R.N.Singhdeo of Ganatantra Parisad for the shake of stability. The coalition was formed and on 22 May 1959, Singhdeo was taken in as undesignated joint CM. Then he poisoned Nehru’s mind against Mahtab alleging that the coalition was an insult to Congress. End of the coalition was expedited. Biju took the leadership in electioneering where Mahtab’s leaked out relationship with Ms. Kelly and Md. Sirajuddin ensured total defeat of his loyal followers and when the third Assembly was formed with a thumping majority for Congress, Biju took over as CM on 23 June 1961. Immediately after taking oath, exactly as he had planned, he concentrated on formation of Industrial Development Corporation, which got registered as a Company on 29 March 1962 and obtained certificate for commencement of business on 16 May 1962. IDC was earmarked to be funded entirely by the State Government with a motive to keep the Central Government away from having any say in its affairs. All its Directors were State government employees picked up on basis of loyalty to Biju. And, this Board of Directors, discussed a Note on 13 January 1963 to purchase a LSF Plant and authorized its Chairman to negotiate with Kalinga Industries for purchasing the Plant from them. The stage-managed negotiation was not to fail. IDC purchased the loss laden Plant which was commercially never viable. Biju Patnaik instructed the IDC to adopt his loyal servant Balan whom he had made the Company secretary of Kalinga Industries as a director and put him exclusively in charge of the LSF Plant even as his another company Kalinga Otto (P) Ltd. was appointed as technical consultant for expansion of the Plant. Chartered Accountant H. Naik & Co, formerly the auditor of Kalinga Industries and G. Basu & Co, auditor of Kalinga Industries’ sister concern, Kalinga Tubes, were appointed for evaluation and the resultant shenanigans were such that the Plant cost was not only increased to around Rs.10 Croes from 70 lakhs, but also orders were placed with the German firm, which was bound by agreement to pay Bijubabu sumptuous royalty, for supply of machineries behind back of the IDC. Thus he derived immense financial benefit by transferring the LSF Plant to IDC for the basic purpose of which he had formed it while pretending that he had formed it for ushering in an industrial era in Orissa. It is to be noted that he had obtained a mining lease over 3,900 acres of land under condition of establishing a Ferro-Manganese Plant at Barbil within three years vide his letter dated 22 August 1952. Erection of his Plant styled as Kalinga Ferro-Alloy Corporation in 1955, despite expression of doubts by industry advisor, was shown to be the plant linked to the lease. This Corporation was later renamed as Kalinga Industries. Hence he was to transfer the 3,900 acres strong mining land to IDC along with the LSF Plant. But he did not do it and went up to retaining it through court cases.
Justice Khanna, who had presided over the Commission of Enquiry against Biju, despite being very remarkably lenient towards him, noted, “The position, as it emerges in the final analysis, is that Mr. Patnaik was able to get rid of and pass on to the IDC the LSF Plant, which in his own words was uneconomical and retain for himself the mining lease, for the retention of which he was so keen that he had to file a writ petition in the High Court, even though the mining lease and the LSF Plant were admitted by him to be linked together”.
This is the true picture of what he had painted as his GIFT to Orissa!
Biju had admitted in the Assembly on 2 September 1963 that the transfer of Kalinga Industries to IDC had taken place at his instance. Justice Khanna noted that after facilitating this transfer, “Steps were taken to ensure that both the matter of placing orders with German concerns as well as in that of expansion of LSF Plant the effective control should remain with the Companies of Mr. Patnaik and their employees. It was during the period of such control that the estimated cost wet up to Rs.9.11 Crores”.
What a GIFT!
If this is not treachery, what else is? Is there any one who could be more treacherous than Biju? The man was such a hypocrite that he had not taught his children even two alphabets in Oriya though he was playing politics in the name of Oriya nationalism!
How can you expect that all the people shall continue to be befooled by the Protégés of this mafia for all time to come?