Ruling BJD has on August 19 finally replaced its man in the Speaker’s chair at the eve of Orissa Assembly’s monsoon session to commence from August 20.
The new man is Sri Kishore Mohanty, representing Jharsuguda.
Sri Maheswar Mohanty whom Kishore replaces was to relinquish his post as a lady marshal of the Assembly raised allegations of sexual harassment against him, notwithstanding that she has made the allegations after being subjected to disciplinary charges for severe dereliction in duty.
The State Human Rights Commission had enquired into the matter and found Maheswar not guilty of the offences attributed to him. The lady marshal had not given any evidence to substantiate her allegations, the Commission had held.
Maheswar had withdrawn from presiding over the House the moment the allegations were made against him and wanted to be investigated. So, in fact, he had not belittled the image of the Speaker in any manner in this matter. Rather his steps deserve to be recognized as democratically correct steps.
After his innocence was established in the Rights commission investigation, it should have been proper for BJD to reset him as the candidate for the post again. But, politics is now not based on probity and commitment. No wonder, Maheswar has been replaced.
The new Speaker is known for his manners. He has adequate political experience in handling tricky situations.
But this being the last year in the life of the current Assembly, he has no much time to prove his mantle as chief of the rampart of democracy in Orissa.
He can of course do a great service to the assembly if he summons reports from members on how best have they used the computers and laptops they were given by the assembly for constituency use. Barring exceptions like Ranendra Pratap Swain of Athgarh, most of the members have not used their systems for the peoples and projects under their respective constituencies. He should take stock of this and members who fail to show the details of constituency use of the computers should be asked to surrender them to the Assembly in perfect condition failing which steps for recovery should be initiated.
Otherwise, the new speaker shall remain in public mind as just a political man in the chair, not a new one in true sense of newness.