Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
I was present. A senior journalist was having a telephonic talk with a Cabinet Minister on a subject of public importance. From their conversation I could gather that something wrong had happened in his portfolio, which normally should not have happened. But it had happened; because Pandian wanted the Minister to sign on dotted lines. My presence on the spot was absolutely accidental. So, despite my deep personal friendship, I did not want to know as to who was the Minister he was talking to and what was the fault he was trying to locate by contacting the Minister.
On another occasion, I was in the chamber of a Bhubaneswar based lawyer where an influential education-trader was updating him on his status over an encroachment on about 10 acres of land. As I gathered from the conversation, the government has filed an FIR against the encroachment. Pandian’s name figured and what I could grasp was that, the encroacher was in touch with him to settle the encroachment in his favor under the plea of educational need. The lawyer asked, “will it click?” And, the encroacher said, “If Pandian wants…….”. My presence in the lawyer’s chamber at that time was purely accidental, as I had gone to him in a trade union case. I was not supposed to poke my nose into what they were talking about and hence I did not make any query. But the unintentionally heard portion of the conversation between the encroacher and the lawyer, gave me the impression that wrong-doers, eager to gain government favor, are finding the all powerful government in Mr. Pandian.
There is discernible evidence of forgery and fraud involving the WILL of Utkalmani Pt. Gopabandhu Das by which the Servants of the People Society has illegally occupied the Samaja newspaper of Orissa and has been looting thousands of crores of rupees from the paper’s earning and impact. ‘Save the Samaja Forum’ has moved the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) to initiate action against the illegal claimants of ownership of the paper as the Press Act does not permit any newspaper to run under illegitimate ownership. The RNI had asked the ADM of Cuttack to inquire into the allegation and report. The ADM was conducting the investigation when Pandian allegedly stepped in. The ADM abandoned the investigation midway immediately and sent a report to RNI as per Pandian’s oral orders. I had met the ADM in this matter and what I gathered from his words, convinced me that, he had to do that, because, he was not brave enough to stick to official principles by ignoring unlawful oral orders of Pandian. He said, when he was a mere ADM, to him, whatever Pandian says, is what the Chief Minister wants.
The CMO has been fortified by denial of entry even to accredited journalists into it, sans specific permissions from officers to meet, in total obliteration of age-old tradition of honoring freedom of press in the CMO. The reason is, might be wrongfully, linked to attempts to hide how Ministers and Secretaries are receiving oral orders from Pandian. He being the private secretary of the CM, there is nothing unusual in Ministers and Secretaries meeting him in his chamber in the Chief Minister’s Office. But, when the Ministers and Secretaries take the private secretary’s words as CM’s, there is reason to take the phenomenon seriously.
Has Pandian emerged a super Chief Minister? If not, how is it that cabinet ministers are acting as he wants?
The Chief Minister should encourage courage in his cabinet colleagues to make them divulge how embarrassed they feel in complying with orders of Pandian that he orally communicates in the name of the Chief Minister.
Under oath of confidentiality, a cabinet Minister told me that he was once forced to pass an order against his own order turning down a bureaucracy generated proposal, when Pandian went on pressurizing him to sign the resubmitted file, even though that was violating official norms and shattering his conscience. He confessed, off the records, that it may be dangerous for any Minister to ignore Pandian’s instructions.
A close friend confided in me that he got a phone from Pandian warning him about dwindling of his support base in his constituency. “Intelligence report says that BJD supporters in your constituency are not content with you and your support base in the constituency is dwindling”. This had a fidgeting effect on my friend. He rushed to Pandian and had to take shelter under him in order to be sure that he would be not denied with party ticket for the next election. But through the grapevine one gets the impression that my friend is not the lone MLA. Almost all BJD MLAs are trying their best to keep Pandian pleased.
This indicates a new danger to democracy in Orissa.
The Chief Minister should seek a secret intelligence report on what Pandian is doing and/or how he is being taken by his cabinet colleagues and secretaries of various departments. He ought to know that emergence of a super Chief Minister in the CMO poses a great danger to administration of the State as well as to his own reputation and credibility.
If Ministers and Secretaries will not confide in him and intelligence wing does not dare to honestly report, it is time for him to assess where he stands.