Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa has a Government that evidently has inadequate IQ. Going by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik’s statement in the Assembly on December 3, one may arrive at this determination.

The Assembly is in doldrums since commencement of the current session following media exposure of sex escapades of Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal.

The offense allegedly occurred at New Delhi in the official guesthouse of Government of Orissa.

It was alleged that Samal was frequently but clandestinely visiting a married woman namely Sanghamitra Singh in Suit No 1103 of Orissa Niwas at 4, Bordolai Marg, where he had lodged her between 4th and 7th of November 2008. During that period, he himself was staying in suit No. 305 of Orissa Bhawan at 1, Niti Marg, New Delhi.

The suits in Orissa Niwas are secured by self-closing doors so that guests enjoy absolute privacy. The inside is not at all viewable from outside. Hence Samal’s visit to the woman and spending hours inside the room was not discernible to anybody from outside the suit.

Naturally therefore Samal generated suspicion. His conduct was abnormal. He was there without being specifically required under administrative exigencies to be there.

He on his own accord has not yet disclosed in which official work his visit to New Delhi was needed by the State and what exact official duty he discharged there during the relevant period.

He is guilty of suppression of facts in his statement that he made to the Assembly inasmuch as he has not informed the House of why he was at New Delhi and why had he lodged the woman in Orissa Niwas and why he had not disclosed to the Home (Protocol) Department that he was taking a woman with him as a part of his duty and lodging her in the Orissa Niwas through his O.S.D. and why he was clandestinely visiting that woman in Orissa Niwas instead of summoning her openly to his suit in Orissa Bhawan if at all his official position was needed to be employed for negotiation with guests to grace the so-called Salandi Mahotsava.

Media exposures made public deduce that the affair was not in consonance with manners expected of a Minister. In popular parlance sex escapade became the catching line.

The Assembly in session was gravely aggrieved over the worst assault on credibility and dignity of peoples’ representatives as a whole that the Minister’s alleged misconduct generated.

Instead of voluntarily placing his version before the House when the affair was exposed in obnoxious terms in media, Samal used evasive tactics so much that the scenario blazed up to the extent of putting the speaker in a predicament in accepting his oral clarifications.

In an unprecedented display of disgust, the Speaker had to direct Samal to submit his clarification, if any, in form of a statement.

And, when Samal complied with that direction, he was found by the Opposition as too evasive to be taken as truthful.

It therefore demanded that the Chief Minister should give the House the clear picture in terms of ministerial accountability.

But the CM has in his statement, notwithstanding admitting that the Minister was marked to have visited the woman several times during the period under question, has asked the Opposition to show proof, if any, of illicit affairs the Minister had with that woman!

The CM should have told the House as to how the conduct of Samal in contravening protocol by leaving Orissa Bhawan unescorted and visiting the woman in her suit in Orissa Niwas clandestinely and spending hours with her inside the closed room was not unbecoming of a Minister.

He should have stated before the House as to whether the Minister was unavoidably required by the State to spend the relevant period at New Delhi with details of official works he was required to do and has done in reality at New Delhi and if the woman was officially sponsored to justify the Minister’s investing official time in her attendance.

He has failed to understand the importance and urgency of enlightening the Opposition on this sordid matter that has spread suspicion on conduct of his cabinet colleague.

He should have understood the necessity of proving that his colleague has not done any wrong to earn condemnation as is being stressed upon by the Opposition.

He should have found out the truth through sharp and specific investigation by the intelligence wing, specifically as he has admitted to have received confidential communications from the Resident Commissioner, New Delhi about the clandestine visits of the minister to the woman he had lodged unofficially in the official guesthouse and should have stated categorically, if the Minister was not guilty of any misconduct on the basis such intelligence investigation.

But he has not done this.

And on the other hand, by coming into the Hall at the summit of a long stalemate in the house and leaving it immediately after reading out a prepared statement that was vitiated by a poser to the Opposition as hinted to supra, he has generated an impression that the Government is either shying at the House in imposing accountability or lacks in IQ to understand that the Minister’s unescorted visit to the woman staying in Orissa Niwas where for her stay his Officer on Special Duty was used is something that needs no proof to show that the said Minister’s conduct was questionable and hence that calls for action.

No earlier Government in Orissa had such inadequate IQ.

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