Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Legislative Assembly in session has collapsed under a lady marshal’s allegations of sexual harassment against Speaker Maheswar Mohanty. This is when she has been suspended for the second time under charges of dereliction in duty.

Mohanty from his side has withdrawn from presiding over the sittings till termination of the allegation on either establishment or rejection through investigation by the House.

Opposition disagrees; as to it, a House Committee cannot be a reliable investigator in such a sensitive matter. It demands for enquiry through the CBI.

Pending enquiry, the Opposition wants the Speaker to resign so that the investigation should proceed without any obstacle.

The Chief Minister’s reaction to this is as lackadaisical as always in matters of public turmoil. Lack of comprehension or absence of ability to rule is responsible for this is yet to be determined. But this time dignity of the rampart of democracy is damaged beyond repair due to his deficiency in political acumen.

Taking undue advantage of the situation, publicity hungry women activists even of obscure organizations have raised a big hue and cry in demanding the Speaker’s resignation as if the lady marshal’s allegation is absolute truth! How the session has collapsed under unrelenting demand of Opposition for the Speaker’s termination needs no elaboration.

The lady marshal has got a great support base in shortsighted politicians and publicity mongers. The Chief Minister’s lack of ability to administer and his reluctance to act promptly and properly in the matter of such sensitive issues has helped the chaosists.

If the Speaker is made to resign over such an allegation raised by a lady employee undergoing disciplinary proceedings for being derelict in her responsibilities then in no office where ladies work discipline can be kept.

On the other hand, if a Speaker of an Assembly or the Parliament is of the habit of sexually harassing lady officials and escapes unpunished, democracy cannot survive.

In such a situation the Chief Minister must act quickly. If he has no political acumen, his party’s shadow managers should prompt him to take a polygraph test of the lady marshal immediately. Science has developed the lie dictator machine. Forensic scientists having expertise in the operation of lie dictators should be asked to conduct the polygraph test on her. If it is determined that she is not telling a lie, the ruling coalition should ask the Speaker to step down forthwith and Law should be allowed to take its own course. Otherwise, the lady marshal should be prosecuted for trading false allegations against the Speaker.

All the women activists and the Opposition should cooperate with such a step if the CM proceeds in this direction. If he does not proceed to find out first as to whether the lady marshal is telling the truth or not, it would be right for the ruling coalition to change the Chief Minister in best interest of Orissa as well as of democracy.

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