C.E.O. IN THE SOUP

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa’s Chief Election Officer is in the soup as the parallel supremo of ruling BJD, Pyari Mohan Mohaparta has alleged that she is anti-BJD and she has interfered with posting of officials in order to implement her anti-BJD motive. The BJD has moved the Election Commission to enquire into her activities, he has revealed. On the other hand, the BJP and the Congress suspect that she has been helping the BJD as she has failed to act promptly against the most notorious attempt to hijack votes for BJD through manipulation in Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

The most notorious booth that the phase 2 elections in Orissa witnessed was booth No.160 at Cuttack’s Nimasahi. It was seen that vote for any candidate of any party was being recorded by the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for BJD as the machine was indicating only the BJD symbol.

Confronted with this, the embarrassed polling officials had to stop further voting there even as both the Congress and BJP and all the participants except BJD alleged that the EVM was tampered with to divert other votes to BJD.

Malpractice in polling was rampant.

Confirming this, the Election Commission (EC) has ordered for and executed re-polling in nine booths. They are Booth No.41 (Tigiria) under Athgarh Costituency, 21 (Kolathua) under Mahanga constituency, 23 (Sadangoi) under Pipili constituency, 111 (Asia) under Badachana constituency, 159 (Rampilo) under Sukinda constituency, 26 (Mukundpur) under Dharmasala constituency, 121 (Erancha) under Niali constituency, 213 (Patilo) under Ghasipura constituency and 212 ((Badasarisa) under Bhograi Costituency.

But the EC is surprisingly silent in respect to the booth No.160 of Cuttack’s Nimasahi, where the most notorious malpractice in polling was spotted as mentioned supra.

In a curious turn of event, the EC has called for sort of explanation from the Chief Election Officer (CEO), Orissa, as to why has she not reported rigging in two booths, i.e. Booth No.112 (Bindhyagiri) and Booth No.114 (Gamein) under Nayagarh constituency even though the TV channels have telecasted the rigging live. On investigation the Revenue Divisional Commissioner is convinced that there was rigging not in two but in four of the Booths.

When 22 Booths under Nawarangpur Loksabha constituency are slated for re-polling, suspicion continues to affect the masses in all the areas where voters had to be frustrated because of defective EVMs.

Tampering with EVMs and allied malpractice apart, attempts to capture Booths by BJD goons has shocked the State such as the one exposed in the Talakusuma Booth under Patakura constituency.

Attempts were made to capture this Booth by imported goons led by a BJD member of the outgoing Assembly from Rourkela constituency.

As the genuine voters objected and the local peoples instantly rushed to the rescue of the Booth, the goons fled with the help of the police; but the MLA of BJD could not escape. He was arrested by police and later enlarged. But when Police had admitted him in the SCB Medical College, Cuttack for treatment needed, if any, as he had reported of beating by the people, he had told a major broadsheet that the son of Bedu (BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agrawal) and his associates fled leaving him behind as a result of which he had to suffer physically. His plea was that he had gone into the Booth as a BJD observer.

It was a Pyari Mohapatra induced attempt to capture the Booth, alleges Bijay Mohapatra, BJP’s contesting candidate.

His allegation does not look wild in view of the fact that the BJD’s parallel supremo had preferred to declare publicly prior to the polling that he had ousted Bijoy from BJD and has made a vow to keep him out of legislative power.

Let us for the time being ignore Pyari’s assertions as mere sophomoric braggadocios of a retired government servant who after carrying out orders of political bosses all through his career is just basking in his surprise success in power-politics.

But, the apolitical community has a right to know as to why the CEO has kept mum as yet on this scenario of Booth Capturing?

Why has she not initiated appropriate action against the BJD MLA, who had admittedly entered into the Booth without any authority?

His plea that he had gone there as an observer of BJD cannot be countenanced as no advance intimation within the legal parameter was in public with the details of the said person vesting in him the authority to enter into the Booth and to interfere with the works of the polling staff as he has admitted.

When the BJD MLA has admitted that Bedu’s son and his Associates were involved with the free-for-all inside the Booth in question, why the CEO has not asked the Police as to how could they flee?

Why she is not clarifying as to what had really happened in the Booth, when in view of EC version on records, Video cameras must have captured the pictures live?

Moreover the occurrences in Talakusumi Booth of Patkura matches with the expressed motive of the BJD’s parallel supremo and circumstantial evidences indicate that the BJD had tried to capture the Booth.

So, why the CEO has been sleeping over this evident assault on democracy by the goons of BJD?

The parallel supremo of BJD has tried to create a cover for the CEO by alleging before the Press that she is anti-BJD. The CEO should not be pro-BJD or anti-BJD. She in fact should not be in favor or against any political party.

But Pyari’s allegation against the CEO looks more like a calculated attempt to detract public attention from her negligence to act rapidly in discernible instances of rigging and Booth capturing and from tampering with EVMs that, like the notorious one at Cuttack’s Nimasahi, visibly transformed the votes in favor of any candidate to votes for the BJD.

VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE, EVM TAKES IT FOR BJD! ADVANTAGE OF STAYING IN POWER?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The shock was unfathomable not only for the Congress and the BJP but also to the peoples of Cuttack’s Nimasahi when this forenoon, it was chance discovered that marking for any party in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at Booth No.160, was being recorded as vote for the BJD!

The Polling officials were mum even as the Presiding officer in whose hand was the control key of the EVM fumbled on watching the exposure.

The exposure rendered the Officials so embarrassingly speechless that they had to stop further use of the EVM as well as voting.

The Election Commission awaits report from the District Collector even as peoples are determined to oppose if any credibility is given to votes recorded in the booth.

Is BJD advantaged by continuation of Navin in power through the most farcical confidence vote Indian Democracy has ever witnessed?

ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES TAMPERED WITH?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Second and final phase of voting in Orissa is witnessing voters’ wrath against polling officers in most of the booths as till now, i.e.noon, the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are not working.

In the first phase of election on April 16, EVM problems had affected voting in many booths. Voters had taken that to be technical defects. Many voters had gone back from the booths and the day’s last information from the Chief Election Officer had put the polling percentage at 52.6. But on April 17, the percentage was finally placed at 65.9. This enhancement was attributed to casting of votes beyond the voting time as that was allowed to compensate time lost due to defect in EVMs. This high rise in voting numbers was looked at askance in certain quarters, even though general public had accepted it as normal.

But the present scenario is so massive that many peoples suspect that the EVMs are tampered with.

The EVMs are high-tech machines created with excellent technical know-how and carry certificate of faultlessness on the basis of meticulous testing. They should not have shown such defects in normal condition; but they may develop defect only if tampered with, suggest techno-academics that we contacted.

No wonders, voters in a Cuttack booth have manhandled the polling staff suspecting tampering of the EVMs .

Apolitical intellectuals feel that there should be credible inquiry over non-functioning of the EVMs in such massive scale.

TATHAGAT AND SOUMYA ARE MY PERSONAL PREFERENCES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Electioneering is over. Voters will now vote in the 2nd phase of general elections in Orissa.

In my considered views, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is the worst enemy of Orissa like the Congress Party is the worst enemy of India. Both these parties are anti-democracy inasmuch as they are structured on factotumism or, in peoples’ tongue, Golamvad run under autocrats to describe whom the Press has coined the word supremo. The members of these parties are known as workers and the workers, some of them “appointed” as leaders, act as factotums of the supremo of their respective parties.

Both of these parties also share another common character. And, that is their readiness to displace our peoples from their source of livelihood if thereby any capitalist, specifically any foreign capitalist and /or anybody who emits American aura could benefit.

So these are the two parties that our peoples should reject in interest of our democracy and I am sure if our peoples were well informed, there would never have been any possibility of any considered support for any of these parties in Orissa.

This could have been possible had the Communists not forfeited their credibility by hobnobbing with either of these parties. Lack of alternative has been forcing our peoples to mark Hobson’s choice on the ballot papers and I fear, till peoples learn to use ballots as bullets against their class enemies, there will be no end to this syndrome.

So, our peoples that would want to exercise their voting right this time shall have to mark Hobson’s choice on ballot papers in absence of any provision to register their refusal to vote. When Hobson’s choice is unavoidable, the chooser should always try to opt for the best amongst the available lot.

On this premise, notwithstanding how much I abhor BJD and Congress, I will call upon voters of Dhenkanal Loksabha and Khandapara Vidhansabha constituencies to cast their votes in favor of Tathagat Satapathy of BJD and Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik of Congress respectively.

Were I been a voter of any of these constituencies, I could have marked my personal preference accordingly; because these two are two individuals with the stamina of standing alone against party-lines when greater interest of our peoples should so command.

Let me tell first of Sri Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik as he is the candidate of a national party.

Political identity apart, he is the father of Orissa’s first newspaper based on modernity, the multi-editional daily Sambad. As the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists, I had organized the working journalists of Sambad into a trade union when his father-in-law Sri J.B.Pattanaik was the Chief Minister. A scribe, who was my close associate in that organization, was dismissed and the conciliation having failed, reference of the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication was a must. But the mandarins in the Labor Department did not refer the case and unless the case was referred for adjudication, the affected journalist was not to get justice. And the Industrial Disputes Act had given a carte blanche to the government in the matter of reference. I decided to set fire to this draconian law in front of Orissa Assembly when the House was in session. scp1The picture affixed hereto shows that when I set fire to the I.D.Act in front of the Assembly, the then leader of Opposition, Biju Patnaik had personally witnessed the event and expressed support.

This I recall only to show why should I support Soumya Ranjan. Despite such stance against him as owner of Sambad, he, as Editor thereof, had shown no reluctance to carry my column Singhavalokana (Animadversion) with utmost importance in the editorial page for years till I relinquished writing for the print media. I must put it on records that Soumya Ranjan had displayed extraordinary editorial magnanimity in publishing my writings even though sometimes those were sharp against the administration run by his father-in-law. No other person except him, as I know the newspaper owners-cum-editors of Orissa, could have preferred professionalism to personal relationship as he had in the matter of publishing my column.

So, in my opinion, Soumya Ranjan is a person, who can rise above party line to serve greater cause of Orissa.

Let me now say as to why the other candidate of my choice is Tathagat Satapathy.

He is a man of rare courage and is capable of saying ‘No’ to wrongs of the party boss if thereby Orissa’s greater interest is best served. From many instances, I will cite only two to support my preference.

In these pages there are topics that tell how he alone in BJD could emphatically say that instead of mad rush for IIT and elite institutes of education, emphasis should be on provision of water to cultivable lands. His stance irritated almost all known sycophants of Navin Patnaik; but he stood firm on his opinion.

The other instance recalls Tathagat’s principled opposition to Navin’s father Biju Patnaik.

The land-grabbers had found a great ally in Biju when he was the Chief Minister. They had contrived a design to grab the land on sea between Puri and Konark. And accordingly, establishment of Hotels of international standard was marshaled as ploys.

Biju had gained over the Congress that was in Opposition.

On 9 November 1993, Basant Kumar Biswal revealed the Congress mind in the Orissa Legislative Assembly by declaring that it would be wrong to oppose the allocation of land to the Hotel project under the plea of conservation of forests. He offered total support to Biju’s government in that matter. It is Tathagat Satapathy, a young MLA at that time belonging to Biju’s party, who vehemently opposed the move. He declared that he would never support deforestation of the sea beach in order to hand over the rare seashore land to a pack of industrialists in the guise of hotel establishment. Biju was trying to dereserve the reserved forest to facilitate transfer of the vast stretch of marine land to private industries. Tathagat had challenged that and had exposed the hidden agenda of Biju. He had gone even further to mobilize masses against the design through an editorial in Dharitri on 15 November 1993 wherein he had condemned Biju Patnaik for the treachery he was playing against our peoples by extending help to land-grabbers in total disregard to the interest of Orissa. His principled fight against this design of Biju, even when the Opposition was in his pocket, had stirred up such agitation amongst the members of Janata Dal that Pradip Maharathy had to resign from the post of Deputy Chief Whip in protest against Biju’s conduct and as many as 15 of Janata Dal MPs had to prevail upon the Prime minister at New Delhi to deny permission for deforestation.

So, from Biju to Navin, as I have marked, Tathagat has not hesitated to disapprove wrong steps taken by the party boss and to oppose such steps to the best of his ability.

This makes me feel that in BJD, Tathagat is an individual who deserves support to serve the State further, notwithstanding how bad is his party BJD.

INADEQUATE CAMPAIGN FUNDS DISADVANTAGES CONGRESS CANDIDATES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Congress candidates in Orissa have failed to show how morally they are better equipped than their rivals in the fray. The way Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh denigrated the Parliament in the matter of the nuke deal with USA and stage-managed survival through horse-trading, has remained too fresh in peoples’ mind to allow any Congress candidate trade on morality ground.

Every contesting candidate of the Congress party knows that the only chance for his / her victory is cocooned in the purse that the party would provide. But that cocoon does not open!

Except those, who have black money and who treat electoral expenses as investment against anticipated higher income, none of the Congress candidates has taken up electioneering with noticeable energy and confidence. Rather majority of Congress candidates is confused. The scenario is such bleak that local heavyweights of the party in different constituencies are ignorant of their party manifesto, as copies thereof have not reached them! A few numbers of contesting candidates of the party have confided that they are unable to meet the daily need of campaign workers.

Electioneering over, it is now time to appoint booth workers and counting agents. Many of them do not know how to meet the cash demand on this head.

Has the Congress high command not released the money or the “appointed” gang of five has swindled the party fund in connivance with central emissaries is what is hunting the confused Congress candidates.

The way BJD is dazzling with every wish of every worker thereof fulfilled, the Congress candidates, who, by experience know that their party is neither a party of saints nor a party with no funds, are apprehending that they may not get workers to serve them in the booth, if purses are not opened immediately.

A number of candidates confided that it would not be surprising if they flee from the field to evade payment to campaigners and vehicle providers.

Most of them suspect that the “appointed” leadership of the State Congress is at the root of non-supply of required funds to them and howsoever misplaced such suspicion might be, they are in such mood that post-election review may force the ‘gang of five’ test how acrimonious could be frustration over inability to win a game of power-politics.

ORIYA NEWSPAPERS BEHAVE LIKE CLASSIC PROSTITUTES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Prostitutes don’t mind manners or language, caste or creed, color or culture, age or health and region or religion of the customer. But they have their own religion. That is, total devotion to desire of customers.

Ramayan gives us a sample in the Ravan –Rambha episode.

Rambha was the most provocative beauty amongst prostitutes of paradise. All the women of the world held beautiful because of their voluptuous thighs are called Ramboru by the name of this Rambha.

Ravan was the richest, the most powerful and able bodied monarch of his days, whose valor had made the Gods serve him as slaves. Kuver was one of these Gods.

Ravan once saw Rambha in an arbour in amorous adornment as if waiting for a customer and getting instantly aroused, wanted sex with her.

Rambha refused.

She declared that she could have happily agreed to his proposal had Kuver not booked her for the night.

She urged upon Ravan not to vitiate her rendezvous with Kuver by his advances; but when Ravan refused to pay any heed to her appeals, she invoked her celestial prowess and halted him with the curse that in spite of the immortality boon obtained from Brahma, he will instantly die if then and thereafter, at any time, he attempts to rape any woman against her will as enforced sex would tantamount to rape.

Ramayan says, because of Rambha’s curse, Ravan had not dared to rape Sita even though he had abducted her for the same purpose.

Mahabharat gives us another instance in the episode of Sati Anasuya.

There was an exquisitely beautiful prostitute namely Lakshyahira. There was a leper, whom, under the tricks of time, the noble Anasuya had married to.

And, after marriage this man declared that he couldn’t consummate his marriage with Anasuya unless he once beds with Lakshyahira.

Anasuya went to the prostitute to entice her to accept her husband for a night.

Lakshyahira was so named, because her charge for a night was at least a lakh of diamond pieces. Obviously she was not available to anybody below the top layer of the rich. Besides being a leper, Anasuya’s husband was a very poor person and was living on alms. So, it was impossible for Anasuya to obtain consent of Lakshyahira for her husband for a night.

She cried under utter helplessness.

Lakshyahira took pity and wanted to know as to how being the wife she was eager to get a prostitute for fornication with her husband.

Anasuya revealed that her marriage couldn’t be consummated unless her husband was free from his fixation for Lakshyahira.

And the prostitute, moved by devotion of Anasuya to her husband, agreed and the night was fixed.

Mahabharata has described how affectionately and dedicatedly Lakshyahira had entertained the husband of Anasuya despite he being a leper.

These two episodes show that both of the everlasting mass media called Mahapuranas of India, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat, have devoted their pages to describe how prostitutes that are totally devoted to desires of customers are held with high esteem.

Orissa’s present mass media organizations, specifically top circulated broadsheets, are perhaps inspired by the Mahapuranas.

In today’s edition, they convey the peoples that Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has, from his own pocket, provided funds for poor elders under Madhubabu Pension Scheme.

Nothing could be a greater lie than this.

Navin Patnaik has never given a single pie from his personal pocket for this program in particular and for any other scheme under implementation by the State in general.

This election, the Goebbles of Navin are using all their tricks to make peoples forget the acts of tyranny that his incumbency has perpetrated on our soil. So, clever ads are contrived and newspapers are trapped. The news media organizations are sumptuously paid to carry these ads meant to project Navin as a friend of the poor, contrary to the actual, with a motive to mislead the voters in order to pave the path afresh for foreigners like POSCO to grab our natural resources.

The ad carried by a section of broadsheet majors today is a classic instance of this mischief against our peoples.

Before publishing this ad, it was proper for them to go through the message they helped delivered. They have failed. Like the prostitute stays devoted to desires of the customer, they have devoted front-page space to spread of false propaganda in support of Navin.

Newspapers though owned by individuals are public entities inasmuch as they thrive only on circulation and revenue that circulation generates.

The public needs political education and correct information in the time of election in interest of democracy. Political education needs interpretations / analysis / editorials that may cover various views and election manifestoes vis-à-vis political economies; but information cannot be compromised with.

Information must be accurate as otherwise peoples may be misinformed and thereby democracy may be derailed.

The ad in question highlights that it is Navin who alone came to rescue of the poor peoples and consoled them with love and affection and that from his own pocket, he has provided for pension to poor elders under the scheme called Madhubabu Pension Yojana. Is it correct information?

Is there any ethics behind the media carrying the ad to cover up the reality? How the ad looks when we remember the wretchedly poor peoples of Kalinganagar whom bullets of Orissa Police in collaboration with goons of TATA had silenced and maimed; but to whom Navin had refused to visit to console? How it looks when we remember the journalists who, for reporting firsthand information of how starving peoples of Sinapalli were eating a sort of lime stone locally known as Jhinkiri to overcome hunger, were framed up by Navin’s police in false cases and were subjected to prosecution for treason? How it looks when we remember the helpless mothers that had to sell away babies they had given birth to, just to have a little money to thrive for a few days? How it looks when we remember the families that committed suicide to escape ignominy of inability to repay agricultural loans? How it looks when we remember the cries of marginal farmers whom administration has forcibly displaced to provide land to POSCO and the likes because of Navin’s obsession with industry?

If telling the peoples the truth is the minimum that the press should do, how Orissa’s broadsheets justify their collaboration with Navin’s Gobbles that he has, from his own pocket, provided funds for Madhubabu Pension Yojana?

Their conduct is clearly like that of prostitutes, who, for money, can accommodate every desire of the customer sans qualms.

ELECTION IN ORISSA: NOTEWORTHY IS REFUSAL TO VOTE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Attempts were rampant to hijack election in Orissa by two sets of political activists: one known as BJD and the other, alleged as left ultras.

Money was recovered from a vehicle pressed on election duty of BJD’s Loksabha candidate from Berhampur, Siddhant Mohapatra, with which is dovetailed Chief Minister Navin Patnaik’s Assembly constituency, Hinjli.

Mohapatra claims that the money was meant for electoral expenses that the law permits.

Money was seized from a hotel room stashed in a bag belonging to the son of BJD minister S. N.Patro, which even the police suspects was meant for influencing voters. But the hotel owner has come forward to claim the money as his own.

Voting was discernibly rigged in Navin’s own constituency with agents of the CM distributing chits to voters inside the booths carrying color prints of Navin’s face as well as his election symbol, conch in blatant contravention of election code.

On the other hand, alleged left ultras tried to obstruct voting through assertive violence in various places, even though none of them is known as yet to ever have educated the voters as to why should they refuse to vote.

But noteworthy is the reality that around half of the Orissa voters have not cast their votes in the ensuing elections. They have silently and unnoticed revolted against the plutocratic design behind the election.

Had there been any provision for recording their refusal to vote, it is sure, the first phase of polls in Orissa would never have ended with only 52.6 % voting. All the citizens, qualified to vote, could sure have used their ballot papers to record their refusal to vote so that the elections should have been fully participated and that would have best served the purpose of democracy.

However, as has emerged, voters in twenty numbers of Booths have used their rights not to vote for any of the candidates as to them, election has lost its relevance.

April 16 will be remembered as a day of silent revolution as so many persons of Orissa have refused to tolerate political hypocrisy and have resolutely rejected the plutocratic traps.