Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Electioneering is over. Voters will now vote in the 2nd phase of general elections in Orissa.
In my considered views, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is the worst enemy of Orissa like the Congress Party is the worst enemy of India. Both these parties are anti-democracy inasmuch as they are structured on factotumism or, in peoples’ tongue, Golamvad run under autocrats to describe whom the Press has coined the word supremo. The members of these parties are known as workers and the workers, some of them “appointed” as leaders, act as factotums of the supremo of their respective parties.
Both of these parties also share another common character. And, that is their readiness to displace our peoples from their source of livelihood if thereby any capitalist, specifically any foreign capitalist and /or anybody who emits American aura could benefit.
So these are the two parties that our peoples should reject in interest of our democracy and I am sure if our peoples were well informed, there would never have been any possibility of any considered support for any of these parties in Orissa.
This could have been possible had the Communists not forfeited their credibility by hobnobbing with either of these parties. Lack of alternative has been forcing our peoples to mark Hobson’s choice on the ballot papers and I fear, till peoples learn to use ballots as bullets against their class enemies, there will be no end to this syndrome.
So, our peoples that would want to exercise their voting right this time shall have to mark Hobson’s choice on ballot papers in absence of any provision to register their refusal to vote. When Hobson’s choice is unavoidable, the chooser should always try to opt for the best amongst the available lot.
On this premise, notwithstanding how much I abhor BJD and Congress, I will call upon voters of Dhenkanal Loksabha and Khandapara Vidhansabha constituencies to cast their votes in favor of Tathagat Satapathy of BJD and Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik of Congress respectively.
Were I been a voter of any of these constituencies, I could have marked my personal preference accordingly; because these two are two individuals with the stamina of standing alone against party-lines when greater interest of our peoples should so command.
Let me tell first of Sri Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik as he is the candidate of a national party.
Political identity apart, he is the father of Orissa’s first newspaper based on modernity, the multi-editional daily Sambad. As the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists, I had organized the working journalists of Sambad into a trade union when his father-in-law Sri J.B.Pattanaik was the Chief Minister. A scribe, who was my close associate in that organization, was dismissed and the conciliation having failed, reference of the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication was a must. But the mandarins in the Labor Department did not refer the case and unless the case was referred for adjudication, the affected journalist was not to get justice. And the Industrial Disputes Act had given a carte blanche to the government in the matter of reference. I decided to set fire to this draconian law in front of Orissa Assembly when the House was in session. The picture affixed hereto shows that when I set fire to the I.D.Act in front of the Assembly, the then leader of Opposition, Biju Patnaik had personally witnessed the event and expressed support.
This I recall only to show why should I support Soumya Ranjan. Despite such stance against him as owner of Sambad, he, as Editor thereof, had shown no reluctance to carry my column Singhavalokana (Animadversion) with utmost importance in the editorial page for years till I relinquished writing for the print media. I must put it on records that Soumya Ranjan had displayed extraordinary editorial magnanimity in publishing my writings even though sometimes those were sharp against the administration run by his father-in-law. No other person except him, as I know the newspaper owners-cum-editors of Orissa, could have preferred professionalism to personal relationship as he had in the matter of publishing my column.
So, in my opinion, Soumya Ranjan is a person, who can rise above party line to serve greater cause of Orissa.
Let me now say as to why the other candidate of my choice is Tathagat Satapathy.
He is a man of rare courage and is capable of saying ‘No’ to wrongs of the party boss if thereby Orissa’s greater interest is best served. From many instances, I will cite only two to support my preference.
In these pages there are topics that tell how he alone in BJD could emphatically say that instead of mad rush for IIT and elite institutes of education, emphasis should be on provision of water to cultivable lands. His stance irritated almost all known sycophants of Navin Patnaik; but he stood firm on his opinion.
The other instance recalls Tathagat’s principled opposition to Navin’s father Biju Patnaik.
The land-grabbers had found a great ally in Biju when he was the Chief Minister. They had contrived a design to grab the land on sea between Puri and Konark. And accordingly, establishment of Hotels of international standard was marshaled as ploys.
Biju had gained over the Congress that was in Opposition.
On 9 November 1993, Basant Kumar Biswal revealed the Congress mind in the Orissa Legislative Assembly by declaring that it would be wrong to oppose the allocation of land to the Hotel project under the plea of conservation of forests. He offered total support to Biju’s government in that matter. It is Tathagat Satapathy, a young MLA at that time belonging to Biju’s party, who vehemently opposed the move. He declared that he would never support deforestation of the sea beach in order to hand over the rare seashore land to a pack of industrialists in the guise of hotel establishment. Biju was trying to dereserve the reserved forest to facilitate transfer of the vast stretch of marine land to private industries. Tathagat had challenged that and had exposed the hidden agenda of Biju. He had gone even further to mobilize masses against the design through an editorial in Dharitri on 15 November 1993 wherein he had condemned Biju Patnaik for the treachery he was playing against our peoples by extending help to land-grabbers in total disregard to the interest of Orissa. His principled fight against this design of Biju, even when the Opposition was in his pocket, had stirred up such agitation amongst the members of Janata Dal that Pradip Maharathy had to resign from the post of Deputy Chief Whip in protest against Biju’s conduct and as many as 15 of Janata Dal MPs had to prevail upon the Prime minister at New Delhi to deny permission for deforestation.
So, from Biju to Navin, as I have marked, Tathagat has not hesitated to disapprove wrong steps taken by the party boss and to oppose such steps to the best of his ability.
This makes me feel that in BJD, Tathagat is an individual who deserves support to serve the State further, notwithstanding how bad is his party BJD.