Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Even as internecine strife has started shaking the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) that rules over Orissa, Daspalla – an Assembly constituency – has, on May 24, acted its crematory in advance, with its rank and file burning down its flag in a fierce free-for-all amongst themselves and its MLA Kashinath Mallik lodging criminal complaints against party parliamentarian Rudramadhab Roy in the Police.
Details of how the BJD members of the two conflicting camps jeered and hackled each other do not deserve mention. Significant is the fact that in the bitter wrangle, workers of the party burnt down party flags and tore off Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s photo spangled vests that their rival camp colleagues had worn.
Many Faces of Conflict
BJD MLA Bijay Singh Bariha has, last week, pointed his finger directly at Naveen by alleging that he was asked to resign from the cabinet because of his opposition to allocation of revered hills and soils – the tribals’ living environment – to multinational corporations.
On the other hand, two of the expelled ministers – Dr. Damodar Raut and Debasis Nayak – have castigated the Chief Minister as a fantoccini puppet dancing as exactly the strings are being pulled by Rajyasabha Member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra.
A few days ago, Chairman of Hindol Panchayat Samiti belonging to BJD, whose acrimony with party MLA-cum-Minister Ms. Anjali Behera was discernibly sharp and acute, was killed by a hit-and-run vehicle. When the Police admits that the real culprit is absconding, it has drafted into trial the son of a Sarpanch, who is known as a supporter of the Minister.
From dependable persons of the locality it transpires that the boy apprehended by the Police is a physically fragile boy of impaired faculty who for a serious disease is under treatment of a Mumbai based hospital and is too inane to overcome Police promptings even though that goes against him.
Scapegoats are not unreal in prosecution in such cases. But that, the son of a known supporter of the BJD MLA-cum-Minister is taken into custody in the matter of murder of the Panchayat Samiti Chairman, who belonged also to BJD, speaks volumes of how the ruling party in Orissa is busy in mutually destructive strifes.
In the organizational level, the party is posing to be one and united; but in reality, a cold war between Naveen and Pyari has started brewing.
Confused stalwarts are trying to project the scenario of two of their senior colleagues – Raut and Nayak – pointing accusing fingers at Pyari babu as incidents of personality clash. But, them coming out one after another with the same pattern of statements is suggestive of a deep-rooted crisis that has already spread into its deeper layers.
Daspalla, in this context, is of interesting significance. The tussle there did not stop at clash between two personalities: the MLA and the MP. It involved the rank and file of BJD.
Let us see.
The BJD Scenario
This Party has a President who has not been changed since its inception and the same President is also the Chief Minister ever since the party has grabbed power in Orissa. Hence the government it runs is not answerable to the Party.
With both the top posts in his hand, Naveen acts as an autocrat and members of the party practice sycophancy to keep him pleased so that they can continue deriving benefits as members of the ruling party.
Whosoever fails to keep him pleased gets ousted from his post and even from the primary membership of the party. Ouster of founding members who did not resort to sycophancy is a standing cause that prods all its members, specifically the leaders in lower ladders, to try to surpass each other in showing loyalty to the party autocrat.
Conversely, they also engage themselves in sabotaging loyalty shows of rivals in the party.
This happened in Daspalla.
But this is not the whole truth. The party being one, its rank and file could not have attacked each other to the effect of ruining the party’s official program – Yuva Sankalpa Yatra – even though that was being carried out by Mallik, the MLA, allegedly the local rival of Roy, the MP.
So what was the reason of such hostility?
As per vox populi, the hostility came from sharp pangs of jealousy over sharing the haul out of the welfare funds.
Orissa is marked for corruption and misappropriation of maximum portion of welfare funds by the politicians-in-power in nexus with the bureaucracy. And, the constituency has witnessed how both the leaders have tried to have their respective preferred persons in various official positions in Daspalla. This they have done in order to help their respective followers rule over the welfare funds with the cooperation of their preferred officers.
Thus is Daspalla
Daspalla was Roy’s original political base. As it changed into a reserved category constituency, BJD offered him the nearest Parliamentary constituency of Kandhamal, while planting Mallik in this constituency for the Assembly.
When Roy was the sole leader in Daspalla constituency, the entire lot of officials were cooperating with his supporters. But Mallik’s emergence as the most material leader in the constituency divided the scope. This had, in onlookers’ opinion, given birth to conflicts between the supporters of both of them. Hence, it is feared that the tussle in Daspalla was driven not alone by the two leaders’ respective anxiety over ingratiation with the party supremo, but also by avarice for lucre in BJD’s grassroots.
This is a serious syndrome that shows to what low the State has been dragged down by the BJD government. However, Daspalla has also enkindled a hope that the dinosaurs shall soon eat up each other and vanish.
When the State awaits to know: who really killed the Panchayat Samiti Chairman of Hindol and why; whether or not Bariha’s ouster as minister was factored by his opposition to transfer of tribals’ living environment to industries and how far Raut and Nayak are right in blaming Pyari Mohapatra for remote-controlling the CM-cum-supremo of the party for wrong purposes, the severe strife amongst its rank and file at Daspalla apparently ignited by avarice for lucre has made it clear that the doomsday for BJD is not very far away.
Thus Daspalla appears as crematory in advance for BJD.