Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Orissa’s ruling party BJD is in total disarray with depiction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as the Bhasmasura (the demon that tries to destroy the master by using the tricks learnt from him) by its super brain Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who is posing Shiv for his extirpation.
Power sans proven merit
Naveen is the first man to have occupied the Chief Minister’s chair in Orissa sans any proven merit and hence, the State is in deep despair during his regime.
His father Biju Patnaik, an astute political acrobat of his time with lots of sycophants – common to influential mafias everywhere – died in a condition of rejection by the people of Orissa who had thrown him into the political dustbin after suffering a menacing misrule. J. B. Patnaik, then the State’s CM, out of political courtesy, organized a tremendous obituary for him and the magnanimous people of the State forgave him for all the damages he had done to them. And, as the people of Orissa are very simple by nature, a surge of sympathy for his bereaved family was soon seen.
Peculiar nature of the people
Let us take a short break to see how uniquely simple are the people of Orissa. I will take you to my childhood days in my native place Tigiria. Throughout the year, my father was offering a Purana Patha (recitation of epics) on the outer Veranda of our house where people of my locality, after refreshment in the evening, were gathering to hear the epics that a hired Brahmin used to recite. Ramayana and Mahabharata in Oriya were the epics that were being recited in succession. There was no electricity. The oil lamp was the only medium of light. So, beyond where the Panda was reciting the epic, there was darkness in its soothing best that the people were enjoying at the end of the active day. In that darkness the characters of the epic were, as if, reaching the rapt listeners through the rhythms of recitation, as the Brahmin , whose proficiency in adding emotions to his voice was keeping the entire environment tuned to the topic. People were coming to cheers when a hero was trouncing a villain. But they were soon in tears when the family members of the villain were crying over his death. As for example, people were cheering when Rama was making mincemeat of Ravana; but the next moment, when Mandodari was crying over the death of her husband, the cries of the same people over the demise of Ravana was gushing out in sympathy for the bereaved Mandodari. So simple were our people in my childhood days. This nature has not yet disappered despite changes.
Post-independence politico-economic complications notwithstanding, our people are, by nature, magnanimous and simple. Therefore, when Biju Patnaik died, despite the truth that, in wrath against his corruption and misrule, they had rejected him in the elections, they pardoned his offenses and joined the state obituary offered to him.
The shrewd members of the gang of his sycophants, none of who could ever have dared to dream of occupying power in Orissa on the basis of his own strength and merit, tried to transform this obituary into a sympathy wave for his bereaved family and picking up his son Naveen as the mask, they started a political party by Biju’s name that is known as BJD. And, in the election that followed, this sympathy wave metamorphosed into ballots for Biju’s son and sycophants, who now thrive on a deliberately coined concept of Biju legacy.
So, Naveen became CM neither because of any sacrifice he has for the state, nor because of any political merit he possesses; but because of being an object of mass sympathy after becoming Baapa Cheunda (a child bereft of father).
To his good fortune, a very shrewd and intelligent former bureaucrat Pyari Mohan Mohapatra (Pyari) was available to him to give him the guidance, which he could never have got from any of the sycophants of his father, none of them having any marked political prudence, but each of them being busy in exploiting the moment to his/her personal benefit. People of Orissa became victims of their own magnanimity and simplicity.
But soon it was clear that the preening prince of Bijudom was not able to give a good administration.
Re-emergence of JB
The Congress Party had realized the mistake it had committed by replacing J. B. Patnaik with Gamango just before the elections. It tried to amend its mistake by appointing JB as the PCC Chief.
And, Naveen was no match for JB.
The scenario changed and ministers started revolting against Naveen.
JB gave a call that Naveen should quit, as he was unable to give governance. The State plunged into a state of utter confusion.
JB, as known to Pyari
While serving under JB for so many years, Pyari, the former IAS officer, had deeply understood his then political master’s peculiarities. He had understood that, JB is a man who dislikes discarding even his detractors from his circle, if once he has granted them the boon of his umbrage. He honors his foes for the good qualities, if any, discernible in them and protects the persons, howsoever bad, once they take refuge in him.
This is why he had not taken any action against super offenders like Indrajit Ray. Even sharp saboteurs like Basant Biswal and Bhagavat Mohanty were not dismissed by him despite circumstantial evidences galore to convince that they had tremendous role in Ajana Mishra gang rape episode, masterminded to expedite his removal from office.
Pyari had understood this peculiarity of JB.
The panacea Pyari prescribed
When the astute JB was humiliating Naveen and BJD leaders were at a loss to understand how to make the government functional, Pyari came to his rescue. He gave him a panacea. He advised Naveen to do what JB had never done, so as to give the people a matrix for juxtaposition of the two Patnaiks, which he was sure, would be of utmost advantage for the former.
He advised Naveen to dismiss a pack of his ministers soiling them with innuendoes of corruption even though they were the founder members of his party.
This trick created an occasion of comparison between JB and Naveen in the public and gave an image to Naveen as a crusader against corruption as against JB’s cohabitation with corrupt fellows in his regime.
This was the key to his survival in CM post at that critical juncture. And, thus the former secretary to his father had emerged as ‘uncle’ to Naveen.
Since then Naveen has dismissed many ministers, as and when necessary, to save his own skin and knowing of his wont to dismiss any minister at any time, his cabinet colleagues have remained so docile that there is no real use of collective wisdom in managing the matters of the State. And, therefore, the POSCOs and the Vedantas and the Tatas and the Ravishankars and the likes have used the administration to transform Orissa to their grazing ground. People of Orissa have perished.
Abhorrence in the rise
Therefore, admiration for him is changing into abhorrence in the heart of his own followers in BJD. Biju sycophants are not leaving the party; but are opposing him in the party. This is so sharp that a person like Jagneswar Babu, regarded more as a gentlemen than a politician, has been suspended on disciplinary ground. In every district, BJD is distinctly divided into two fractions – pro-administration and pro-organization. In every nook and corner of Orissa, Congress is getting flow of support from disillusioned members of the BJD in its Parivartan Padayatra which the latter is trying to counter through Jana Sampark Yatra. The Jana Samparka Yatra itself is indicative of how abhorrence to Naveen is in the rise.
Ministers Morcha Vrs Jana Morcha
How far the Padayatra campaign of the Congress party can bring in Parivartan (the change in power) is, curiously, not the crux of public interest in Orissa. The anti-people policies shamelessly pursued by the Congress party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under American influence are being intently watched by the people and the Congress leadership knows that the people are waiting to give the American agents the lesion they deserve, when they are to give their verdict in elections. Individuals like Prasad Harichandan, marked for personal honesty, integrity and efficiency may win; but that won’t be a Congress win.
So, what forms the crux of public interest in Orissa is the internecine tussle that has engulfed BJD.
In every unit of BJD, members recruited by Pyari are active in organization and they are active also against their colleagues who rally round the ministers for personal benefits while neglecting the organization. The ministers boast of power and bask under self-glorification in the company of sycophants and habitual order-carriers of whosoever holds power. Genuine party workers with a bit of self-respect are blatantly ignored in every party unit. On the other hand, Pyari had inspired party workers with recognition of their political worth after deliberately extinguishing the BJD alliance with BJP by unilaterally declaring to set party candidates in every constituency. Had he not done that, Naveen would never have got MLAs to continue as CM for the third term. When innumerable people of Orissa are getting displaced because of Naveen’s nexus with the Tatas and the Ambanis and the POSCOs and the likes, when eco-systems are getting destroyed because of the same nexus, when development funds are getting looted, when welfare projects are getting derailed, when crop fields are inundated with toxic industrial ashes, when slow starvation continues, when distress sale of paddy, distress sale of body, distress sale of baby child are regular phenomena, when officers are ruling the roost, it was not unnatural for genuine BJD members to explore if Pyari could intervene and bring out a change in the stance of administration. But this has landed the party in such a jam that Pyari himself is suspended sans any scope for self-defense. Rightly for him, he has described Naveen as a Bhasmasura.
BJD is becoming murkier as the ministers and their yes-men (Ministers Morcha) want to nip in the bud the Orissa Jan Morcha that Pyari has given birth to.
The scenario may usher in an alternative
Orissa is discernibly disturbed. The scenario is shocking.
But it may usher in an alternative.
The Main Opposition – Congress – is trying to revive itself. But with compradors comprising its high command, patriotic people of Orissa will not vote for it.
Agrarians by birth, with social outlook refined by ideology of Jagannatha-Buddha, the Oriyas are a people who are proud of their ancient culture of universal brotherhood; and therefore, can never support aggressive communalism. Hence BJP has no chance of having the people’s mandate.
Left is the best alternative the people dream about. But, when CPM feels no qualms in publicly projecting Mulayam Singh Yadav as the communists’ prime-ministerial candidate, people are too shocked to rely upon them.
During the last two months, one has witnessed various think-tank-seminars in Orissa that search for possible alliance between genuine left and democratic progressive forces, so that a viable alternative could be placed before the voters. But political opportunism promoted by the plutocrats is so very rampant that such an alternative looks very remote.
With no other alternative readily available, Pyari’s Jan Morcha may fill up the vacuum.
Strategically they may use Biju’s name to withstand what the Ministers Morcha would be doing for Naveen.
But, the genuine left and democratic, progressive forces may find in it a ready ally to save the State from anarchy.
Thus, come, October 28, with Orissa Jan Morcha defining its real shape, an alternative may emerge if the genuine left finds in it a progressive ally.