Naveen plays dangerous game against Orissa in the name of State Anthem

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Impromptus declaration of Bande Utkal Janani as State Anthem is a dangerous game Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has played against the people, just to show himself off as pro-Oriya, when we showed that his anti-Oriya attitude is the main factor of COVID-19 engulfing the State.

It is bad in Law and a breach of the privileges of the Orissa Legislative Assembly.

There is a valid instruction of the Speaker to the Home department to introduce a Bill to make the song the State Anthem, which has been pending since 26.8.2006.Hence, the Cabinet decision dated 7.6.2020 to declare the song State Anthem is a direct assault on the privilege of the Assembly and would create a bad precedence, if the Chief Minister is not taken to task for this contempt against the sovereign House.

The issue of making the song the State Anthem has its origin in the design of former minister Nityananda Mohapatra, son of the author Kantakabi Laxmikant Mohapatra, to fetch an handsome amount of money towards the value of copyright and royalty over the song. For generating a congenial situation for this, he had influenced Sarat Kumar Kar, Speaker of the 12th Assembly of Orissa through noted musician Santanu Mohapatra. Accordingly, Sri Kar had urged upon the members to adopt the song as the last business of every session, which was carried.

The initial strategy thus succeeding, Mohapatra wrote a letter to the Assembly Secretary on 7.5.2003 canvasing for a handsome amount of money towards the cost of copyright, correction and editing of the song as well as royalty. He had earmarked 3 stanzas to be sung as State Anthem to fit into the time frame. Those stanzas, as informed by Santanu Mohapatra, were 1, 4 and 6. They were adopted in the meeting held by the Speaker on 10.5.2003.

Copyright conflict

But, when the Assembly wrote a letter to the Director, All India Radio, Cuttack vide No.12790/LA dt.19.6.2003 for “the original manuscript of the lyrics” and “the original tune” of the song available with AIR, “for selection of specific stanzas of the song”, it transpired that Nityananda Mohapatra and his family had no copyright over it, the same having been sold away to All India Radio by the author himself during his lifetime.

Discovery of this copyright conflict, which Sri Nityanand Mahapatra had suppressed in his letter, dissuaded Sri Kar to proceed further.

His successor Maheswar Mohanty had faced the same dilemma and had very tactfully avoided the payment issue by shifting the responsibility from his shoulder to the Assembly. He had issued an order on 26.8.2006 that a Bill should be introduced in the next session of the Assembly by the Home department “to give recognition and statutory status to the song as State Anthem” which should be “in the light of National Anthem Act.”

Naveen Patnaik being the Home Minister had ignored the Speaker’s order. But the instruction is still valid and whether or not the song should be the State Anthem depends upon the Legislative Assembly under the Order passed by the Speaker on 26.8.2006.

The political climate of Orissa has changed a lot from the time of the author of this song. Despite my researched elaboration on the word ‘Utkal’ the term is facing stiff opposition from people of the highlands. I had suggested for use of the word ‘Orissa” in the caption of the song. But the Government, it seems, has no ears for good advice. It seems, he wants to engage people in controversy over Utkal or Orissa, while continuing to kill the Oriya Language by atrophying the Orissa Official Language Act through wrongful amendments.

The dangerous game against Orissa has just begun.

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