Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
BIJU Patnaik was the tallest man of Orissa during his days and he was a charismatic man whose foes were also his admirers on various grounds.
Many people say, he had noticeable respect for his critics. Yet, during his last term in office, the Press Accreditation Rules was amended with retrospective effect to demolish my professional status, because my animadversions on his public life were not palatable to the power hankering man. Lest the hidden design comes out, the mandarines had used the amendment against my group. We had challenged this mischief in the Orissa High Court and won the battle. His government had got a stricture.
But I must admit, he was a man, who had profound appreciations for the brave. I will narrate an experience.
Despite failure of conciliation, the Government was not referring an industrial dispute for adjudication.It was a dispute between a working journalist and a newspaper with which the then Chief Minister was directly involved. I was the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists and was conducting the case from the journalist’s side. The Industrial Disputes Act has given a carte blanche to the Government to decide whether or not a dispute should be referred for adjudication. As this carte blanche was being misused in the instant case, I had declared to set fire to the I.D.Act before the Assembly in order to force legislative attention to misuse of the law. On being notified of this, Biju Patnaik rushed to the spot. The Assembly was in session. The area was full of armed police. Setting fire to a law of the land in front of the Assembly when the House was in session was certainly not without risk. But with Biju Patnaik witnessing the event, the police stayed transfixed. Such was his charisma. The Government had to declare instantly in the House that the dispute shall be referred for adjudication sans any delay.
I feel sorry to say that his son Naveen Patnaik, incumbent Chief Minister of my State, has made this charismatic man a posthumous political disease from which Orissa needs relief if democracy is to be kept in good health.
The two latest instances of the mischief are Biju Kandhamal Yojana and Biju Gajapati Yojana,for which the state Exchequer is being forced to cough up funds. These are of the same genre as is the existing exchequer eater Biju KBK Yojana.
In these two new designs, every Block of the two districts of Kandhamal and Gajapati would get Rs.1.5 crores each from the state revenue for injecting into the minds of the most illiterate, undernourished and gullible inhabitants of those undeveloped areas that it is Biju whose posthumous grace is being available to them through his son in the form of basic amenities.
The CM has kept a set of words like “dreams of Biju Patnaik” to attire these State funded works for their use as political traps to catch voters. Everybody knows, though an alien to Orissa, he could become its Chief Minister, when after Biju’s demise, his sycophants shrewdly cultivated the common man’s obituary sympathy for his family to grow into ballots in his favor in the immediate elections that followed. And, he knows that as long as the peoples are kept befooled by coinages like “dreams of Biju” matching every possible State funded welfare programme getting named after him, there should be no difficulty in goading the gullible voters into his support. This is why Navin has been forcing the State Exchequer to fund projects named after his father.
No doubt, Biju was a big man with many fans. But he was such a man who had more foes than fans in Orissa. He had made many of his fans become foes because of his practice of corruption when in power. As here in these pages we have shown several times, once successful in hoodwinking gullible people of Orissa to grab power, he was soon being marked for contempt against the peoples and all-round corruption and the people of Orissa were not taking rest till terminating his tenure. Records of election show that once elected, he was being turned down at least twice in elections in Orissa. So naming welfare programs after him like the three noted supra is nothing but misuse of State exchequer by the incumbent Chief Minister for self and family glorification, which read with the September Order of the Supreme Court against UP CM Mayawati’s statue building spree, is illegal.
Glorification of players of power game at the expense of the State Exchequer is a disease that has affected democracy in India. The name of this disease in Orissa is Biju Patnaik.
Democracy needs be saved from it.