Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Self-seekers who join politics always hanker after power and change from party to party if that helps them fetch ministerial berths. The party they enter into feels burdened with them; but they survive there by ingratiating themselves with the top leader of that party and showing more aggressiveness against its rival political parties, specifically against the party they leave behind. These self-seekers have no self-respect and they tolerate any insult the party of their refuge – earlier embarrassed because of them – inflicts. Srikant Jena is no different.
He has more experience as a minister than some of the cabinet colleagues of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. With the experience of handling important departments like Industry and Urban Development in Orissa in the last part of 1980s, he rendered his services as Union Minister of State, Small Scale Industry, Agro and Rural Industries in 1990 and after a gap with parliamentary assignments as Janata Dal’s Chief Whip, he again joined the Union Ministry as Cabinet Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Tourism.
It was, therefore, expected that, when, despite anti-Congress wave in the State, he was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009, the Congress, for which he had deserted the Janata Dal, would offer him a cabinet berth that he deserved. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his extra-constitutional boss Sonia Gandhi wanted to offend Orissa by appointing him as a mere Minister of State, because Orissa had rejected the Congress. It was a direct assault on Oriya mana. Srikant should have refused to accept the position. But shamelessly he accepted and joined as Union Minister of State, Chemicals and Fertilizers. In the last part of 2011, he was allowed to work independently and later put in charge of Statistics and Program Implementation which he had to relinquish in October 2012. Sans any grumble he stayed satisfied with his stultification. He failed to understand that thereby Orissa was embarrassed.
Congress Party has further embarrassed Orissa in the last reshuffle of Singh’s cabinet. When a more deserving MP like Orissa’s former Chief Minister Hemanand Biswal hailing from the tribal community was not even considered for a cabinet berth, Jena was made to make a farce of himself by acquiescing into the PM’s reluctance to elevate him to the cabinet. It was a deliberate design of Sonia-Singh combine to reject Orissa’s claim for representation in the Union Cabinet as thereby the POSCO pal Naveen Patnaik is to politically gain. We have, in these pages, time and again shown, how the Congress high-command has been helping Naveen to stay in power in Orissa in order to help imperialism continue to have a docile servant as Chief Minister in the land of fabulous mines and natural wealth. The same motive of Sonia-Singh combine manifested in keeping Jena out of consideration for a cabinet berth in the last expansion of the Union cabinet. Had he even an iota of self-respect or shame, he should have resigned in protest. But to him, staying docile to the Congress autocrat is more important than staying loyal to Oriya mana.
He is shameless, but for him, Orissa is ashamed.