Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
A surly editorial in minister Damodar Raut’s daily newspaper ‘Sanchar’ makes us infer that the money offered to journalists at Puri by Member of Parliament Pinaki Mishra, when he was addressing the Press as President of the Parliamentary Committee on Urban Development, was deliberate and as per plan of BJD, eager to escape further exposure in chit fund and other scams.
Thrashed by severe protests over the mischief, and possibility of police action upon FIR lodged in the area PS, Mishra has termed it as “gift” and has rejected the allegation that it was an attempt to bribe the Press. “Gift to journalist” is not defined as an offense under the IPC, he has said. This shows, he has made a lot of mental exercise to escape prosecution after being caught with the corpus delicti for attempt to bribe the scribes.
Attention of the Press Council of India has been attracted to the condemnable conduct of the MP. If it entertains the allegation, bribe or gift whatever be it, would get weighed on the matrix of Press Freedom. And, I am sure, Mishra would be censored by the PCI, where the Indian Parliament has also its representation. Pinaki is conscious of what is to happen.
Therefore, he is in fidgets. The idea of describing the bribe he offered to media persons as “gift to journalists” could not have come to his mind had he not been in fidgets.
The MP has done two mistakes by linking UCO Bank to the money distribution.
Firstly, he has asserted that by handing over the money-carrying kits to journalists, the UCO Bank has done no wrong; because, Parliamentary practices provide for such services.
This is a very wrongful assertion.The reigning guidelines on tour of Parliamentary Committees do not support this claim. Therefore, BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra has termed it as an offense against dignity of the Parliament and has demanded that the Speaker of Lok Sabha, where Mishra is a member, should divest him immediately of his chair of the Parliamentary Committee that visited Puri.
And, if Bijay is not ignored by his party bosses, the point he has raised would sure hit the Parliament and if UCO Bank has really been used by the Parliamentary Committee on visit to Orissa by the chairman thereof, the Speaker would sure give him a stricture, if not dismissal.
Secondly, by exposing the UCO Bank link, he has generated a justified suspicion that he and/or his colleagues in the BJD Syndicate are holding black money in secret accounts in that Bank, so that such secret money could flow in without his signature into the money-carrying kits offered to journalists by the said Bank.
The black money angle
should be investigated into
It is imperative that the central government should investigate into the black money angle and keep the records before the public, so that the discomforting suspicion would come to an convincing end.
Therefore, the ethicality in using UCO Bank in an attempt to influence the Press and the possibility of black money stashed by BJD in the UCO Bank are issues to be looked into by the Parliament and Central Government respectively.
But for us the point for cogitation is: why at all Pinaki Mishra, MP of the party of Orissa’s Chief Minister, preferred a paltry sum of Rs.200/- to be offered to each of the journalists that attended his Press Conference at Puri on records? What was the mens rea?
The query pushes us towards a greater conspiracy to destroy dignity of media when, because of media activism, the BJD supremo’s credibility is suffering sharp erosion. The journalists are exposing the discernible details of the scams and of the investigations or lack of investigations thereinto, to the utmost chagrin of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. No other chief minister had attracted so much suspicious eyes over so many scams and loot of natural resources and tyrannic oppression on indigenous people for benefit of non-Oriya and foreign industries. In no other regime, resounding steps of compradors were so menacingly overwhelming the State administration. Slowly but steadily the curtain is being raised by the Press and the nasty inner color of the ‘MahakalaPhala’ (Trichosanthes Palmata) coming out. Naveen is to be protected from being exposed as a Trichosanthes Palmata, if BJD is to stay in power.
So the motive hidden behind Pinaki’s attempt to grease the journalists’ palm with accompanying tricks to bring that to public, was to create a situation for depletion of credibility of scribes whose alert eyes are now focused on Naveen.
Tricks can’t save
Naveen is sure, all the tricks he has contrived to mislead the people by christening all welfare projects of the State by his father’s name would fail; and he would be kicked out of office by the people, if the current trend of exposure by the Press continues.
Therefore, when several BJD members of Assembly and Parliament are in jail under judicial custody consequent upon exposure of scams, and possibility of exposure of his own involvement as the real operator of various scams through frontmen is gaining vigor, and media is digging out how he has acted a comprador of mine-grabbers like Jindal, and people have started suspecting him over the scams as a result of Press activism; the attractive Trichosanthes Palmata red-ball is at the verge of getting ripped off, attempts were made through Pinaki to show the people that the Press Reporters cannot be relied upon, because they are susceptible to external influence guided by bribes or gifts, howsoever small be the volume and the value.
Surly Editorial in Sanchar
The design to denigrate the Press, so that the people won’t be inclined to believe in what the journalists report, is spelt out in editorial of Sanchar, the paper of BJD heavyweight Damodar Raut, dated November 14, 2014, where attempts have been made to make out why the journalists are gainable by bribes or gifts and not reliable.
Sanchar has a marked nuisance value. When it was a periodical, Raut had got back his ministership by blackmailing Naveen Patnaik in a banner therein that read – “Belgium Glass ru Parada Khasuchhi” (Mercury is falling from the Belgium Glass). And, as Raut is now functioning as a minister, the daily avatar of the same Sanchar has, in the editorial cited supra, has aspersed the journalists, because of whose watchful eyes, it is difficult for Naveen to escape.
The evil and opportunistic design of Sanchar is bare, when, while shedding meretricious tears on plight of the journalists in the regime of Naveen Patnaik, the crabby editorial says that, most of the newspapers are not paying the journalists their due salary and therefore, they have no other way than depending on payola for giving publicity to whosoever wants. Knows as he of this, Pinaki had arranged cash gifts for them in both his press conferences at Puri and Bhubaneswar. The Puri scribes protested; but media persons of Bhubaneswar took the money with pleasure, the editorial has said. The entire editorial, captioned “Sambadikanka Swabhiman” is a shrewd attempt to destroy the public image of the scribes, so that whatever they report on economic offenses sic passim the State administration shall not be taken seriously. Thus, the Sanchar of minister Damodar Raut has tried to provide necessary support to the mischief of the ruling party executed through Pinaki Mishra.
Obviously the putrefactive viruses have taken up new masks, such as this editorial and terming the bribe offered to journalists as “gift”.
Acrobatics won’t work
But such wordy acrobatics will not work.
People know, if press persons had ever been guided by avarice, the felonious activities of political leaders and top brasses of administration that are exposed and on exposure of which governments have gone out of power time and again, and judicial inquiries have brought out hidden offenses of the rogues that rule, and leaders have been incarcerated, and plutocratic governments have been forced to allocate funds for welfare of the wretchedly poor, could never have been possible in India.
And the offenders know, the power they are misusing can never last for ever.
Money to media has failed at Puri, and will fail everywhere despite Sanchars and Arnab Goswamies.
As conscience cannot be wiped out, so also Press cannot be suppressed through money and innuendoes.