Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The country expects fair dealings from the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues. But whosoever might have watched how Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s face became nasty in wrath, as Orissa MPs expressed resentment to lack of fairness in central aid to Orissa, must have been deeply disappointed.
Might be Mukherjee was right in saying that the BJD MPs were not right in raising an issue not contextually concerned with the business before the House at that time. But the way he reacted reflected his irritations in his face and presented a posture not becoming of a Minister.
Orissa was discriminated against last year by Man Mohan Singh Government in the matter of central assistance to tackle the catastrophic damages wrecked by rivers in full spate. Even as Orissa damage was no less severe than that in Bihar, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and UPA Chief Sonia, then dependant on Lalu Pr. Jadav of Bihar for survival of their Government, rushed there and announced an instant assistance of Rs.1000 crores over and above the flood of funds Lalu was pumping from the Railways to that State as flood assistance. The Center deliberately delayed in having a survey of the spate in Orissa and when, much after the deluge had receded, the Union Home Minister made a reluctant visit to evade world criticism for negligence to Orissa on political grounds, he had announced central assistance worth only Rs. 500 crores in a face-saving attempt. But that the Union Minister’s announcement was a mere joke was unveiled as in reality the Union granted only Rs.98 crores.
It is shocking and surprising that out of this amount, the Union Government now wants refund of Rs.80 crores when on records in the Loksabha it has stated not to withdraw any fund from Bihar.
Orissa is undoubtedly discriminated against in absence of a legal guideline.
Orissa MPs were provoked by this Central foul play to raise their voice against the refund demand in the Loksabha on July 10. Their concern was never wrong, even though we agree, the timing might have been.
But was it proper for Mukherjee to have jumped into a quarrel with Orissa MPs in an obnoxious manner that watching the proceedings on TV screen we got the impression of?
Besides being the Finance Minister he is the Leader of the Loksabha as Prime Minister Singh is disqualified to hold the post. We marked, instead of addressing the Speaker, Mukherjee crossed words directly with the BJD leader in Loksabha, his face showing bitter contempt towards the Orissa MPs.
It will be better if Mukherjee practices not to show nasty irritation in his face when MPs from a State get provoked to voice their resentment against their State being discriminated against by the Union.