A Father and his Son: the Rare and the Immortal Pair in the History of our Fight for Emancipation

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In India’s freedom movement, most rare was the phenomenon when a father and his son had together staked their lives out in cause of the country and had emerged as a formidable force against not only the British, but also against the local oppressors that were in nexus with the British.

Revered revolutionary Gouranga Charan Das and his son Shashi Bhusan were such a rare pair.

When Pt. Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal were from the highly advantaged echelon of the society, Gourang Charan, though born to an elite caste called Karana in Orissa, hailed from the most disadvantaged economic environment. Physically handicapped by birth, he was not supposed to be the man to challenge the British. But he did. And with such vigor that a like of him was not found elsewhere by his compatriots, at least in Orissa.

He epitomized the struggle for freedom and was a living spirit behind applied Gandhism in Orissa. Yet, he was beyond the political economy of Gandhism. His creed was political economy of socialism even in the days of freedom movement and howsoever misconceived might it be, he had found Gandhiji’s village reconstruction program more practically akin to socialism in Indian climate and therefore, he had addressed himself to village reconstruction than parliamentary politics. He was unopposed elected to Orissa Assembly in 1945, when the nation had addressed itself to pre-independence experience in democracy,but did not show any eagerness for election thereto in later years. In post-independence era, as it was suitable to his orientation, he headed the district board of Cuttack. But neither he hankered after power nor he lessened his priority on village reconstruction. In fact, this priority did not allow him to stay a politician in power.

He was suffocated in the climate of corruption that Prime Minister Nehru had given birth to in encouraging collection of election funds from private industries. He was shaken to the core by climate of elitism that Nehru had ushered in by distancing administration from the people. As Nehru’s daughter also went ahead with absolutizing the climate of opportunism that first Prime Minister had commenced through compromise with the rising mafia, he, under sheer force of patriotic calls against the massive misrule that had then engulfed the country, had pinned his last hope in Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, to whom Gandhiji had respected as his conscience-keeper, and joined the Swatantra Party founded by Rajaji, then appearing as the strongest opposition to Congress; but soon his last hope became a lost hope, as the ex-kings of Orissa, constituting the top brass of this party, were in no mood to cooperate with him, as for them it was impossible to forget how the people’s movement in their principalities, which had forced them to surrender their kingship, was strengthened by Gouranga Charan.

I have seen how sad was he as political pollution was tightening its grip on many a freedom fighters of the day. He was spending his time with a dream in his heart that a day will come when India shall rise again against the anti-people politicians because of whom dreams of freedom had gone disarray. But that day did not come till his last day, 19 February 1972.

But one man had stayed tuned to his dreams till the last moment. And, he was his son, his compatriot, his comrade, his fellow sufferer in freedom movement, his fellow traveller in the mission of nation reconstruction, Shashi Bhusan Das.

When a school student he had joined his father in the movement in 1935, rendered matchless assistance to fighters underground, circulated movement instructions amongst them and their camps, acted as the most alert but secret carrier of freedom messages to the wits’ end of British intelligence. The authorities had a great relief when he was arrested on 1st February 1943. He was imprisoned for 18 months; but he had refused to appeal against the imprisonment as that would have been his recognition of legitimacy of the justice system of the foreigners. And, till he breathed his last on 22 January 2011, he had not changed, though most of freedom fighters had changed into self-seekers in the mafia raj that has taken over the country after independence.

I bow to the sacred memories of both the father and the son.

Advertisements

Orissa Gana Samaj Dharana at Raj Bhawan Reminds the Governor of his Duties to the State

Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare has, of course, refused to be mislead by the report of the chairperson of Orissa State Commission for Women in the matter of Pipili gang rape and has advised her to review her own work and come up with a credible one; but that is not enough, as Orissa Gana Samaj has observed.

In a Dharana at Raj Bhawan on February 18, Orissa Gana Samaj has reminded the Governor of his duties to the State in circumstances of rising oppression on the people and relentless deterioration in law and order with a police siding with the offenders.

The Gana Samaj used the occasion to thank the people of Orissa as in every nook and corner of the State they have stood with it in accepting its call to put moral pressure on the government to discipline the police which has forced the Chief Minister to issue instructions for immediate registration of every information on atrocities on women and weaker sections.

ATHGARH: RE-ELECTION ON THE ANVIL; YET FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES ARE STILL TO BE ADDRESSED

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The wrong the Election Commission of India had done to people of Athgarh by not intervening in illegal rejection of sitting member Ranendra Pratap Swain’s nomination papers by the Returning Officer in 2009 general election to Orissa Assembly has clamped a fresh election on the voters of the constituency, though the RO, for whose foul play the by-election is necessitated, is not yet punished.

Orissa High Court, on hearing of the case preferred by Swain, had declared the election of ruling party factotum Ramesh Raut null-and-void, which meant, Raut was to be unseated since the very day of his election. But, the secret agents of derailment of democracy, who in the ruling party had contrived the method of using the RO to keep Swain away from the Assembly as he was in habit of castigating the government on the floor of the House for misrule in various departments, did not allow the HC order to work and instead invested massive money in challenging the same in the Supreme Court. Ultimately they failed and therefore the by-election is now on the anvil. The EC will formally issue necessary notifications on Feb.22 and the voters will cast their votes on March 18, if no sudden change of scenario intervenes.

But the by-election is not the final solution to the issues at stake. If they are not solved, we shall have no hesitation in saying that the EC of India, the Supreme Court of India as well as the Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly are failing in their duties to democracy.

The Election Commission

As we have discussed in these pages, there is serious lacuna in our electoral system that allows any one who can gain over a RO to make anybody including a prime-ministerial candidate debarred from contesting by getting the officer reject his/her nomination papers on the day of finalizing the list of valid candidates, at a time, when he/she shall have no time to correct the defects, if any.

It had happened in Athgarh.

The RO had received Swain’s papers duly filed and kept them in his custody till the day of preparation of the list of valid candidates. At the time of scrutiny – the last act before preparation of the list of valid candidates – he suddenly declared that Swain’s party ticket was not original as required under the law though he had received the document in original and kept the same in his custody. Refusing to pay any heed to Swain, the RO had rejected his nomination, thereby debarring him from contesting the elections. And, the EC had refused to intervene as there was no scope to intervene.

The High Court had found the conduct of the RO erroneous and the Supreme Court also agreed with this as it rejected the appeal against the HC order.

But all these legal exercises were not necessary if the RO had not acted mischievously and arbitrarily and the EC not failed to undo the wrong order of the RO.

Therefore, we had suggested that EC should create an authority to instantly intervene in case of arbitrary rejection of nomination papers by the RO. Unless such an authority is created, an enemy nation, by gaining over a RO, can derail Indian democracy by debarring a possible Prime Minister from contesting. But the EC is failing in this regard. It should immediately create a layer over the RO to intervene and settle cases like that of Swain so as to avoid such electoral dislocations in future.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India has finally restored derailed democracy to its track at Athgarh by approving what the Orissa high Court had decided. But the fact that pinches is that the legal process of hearing and deciding the case has taken so much time that the people’s right to be represented through the candidate of their choice is going to be materialized only in March 2012, after long three years of the election. The delay could have been avoided to the maximum extent if both the Courts had exclusive benches to dispose of election cases, as nothing in a democracy is more clamant than settlement of election issues.

The Supreme Court has been pleased to form green benches to decide exclusively the environmental cases as expeditiously as possible. Similarly, exclusive benches to hear and decide election cases may be created, as, thereby only, finalization of election cases in utmost speed can be ensured, we had suggested. But election benches are yet to be formed.

The Speaker

On receipt of the Supreme Court verdict that approved Orissa High Court’s order declaring the Athgarh election null and void, the Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly has terminated Raut’s membership.

But the termination should have been done with retrospective effect.

With the Supreme Court order confirming the order of the High Court, the election of Raut being null and void, it is to be treated that Raut was not a member of the House for a day. Hence, all the salaries and allowances he has received from the Assembly as a member need be recovered from him. The Speaker has not passed any order to this effect. Non-recovery of money paid to him will mean non-nullification of his membership till termination by the Speaker, which would mean non-acceptance of the High Court order as fortified by the Supreme Court that has set the election null and void, which, in other words would also mean nullification of the orders of the Courts by the Speaker till termination of Raut’s membership. It would be totally illegal and the Speaker should not refuse to look at this point. But, it seems, the Speaker has failed to look at this.

In interest of democracy, these issues need urgent cogitation.

THREAT TO INDIA’S FEDERAL STRUCTURE: WE FULLY ENDORSE WHAT ORISSA CM HAS WRITTEN TO PRIME MINISTER

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

History will remember Dr. Manmohan Singh as the person who has rendered the national resolve of India enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution inconsequential. Yet he is heading a government that is trying to damage the federal structure of India as is marked in Office Memorandum of February 3, 2012 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs that superimposes a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) on the State Governments.

It has the mischief of causing a permanent diminution of the primordial role of the Provincial Government in policing the State inasmuch as at Para 3.1, the OM empowers the Director of NCTC to act as the ‘designated authority’ under Section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which would vest in him the power to search and arrest any citizen of the State u/S 3A of the UAP Act behind the back of its Government. It is further set to subdue the State Governments as, under Paras 3.5 and 5.1, it requires “all authorities” that include all functionaries of the State to provide all information and documentary data including confidential reports as would be required by NCTC even though thereby privileges of the provincial governments would be ripped up to the detriment of dignity of State administration.

Even as we have no hesitation in saying that the UAP Act is being misused by the State governments, specifically by the Government of Orissa, to settle scores with political opponents and disadvantageous journalists, we have no problem in foreseeing that the NCTC mischief would pose more severe threat to the federal entity of the States if the provisions as hinted to above are not dropped. The people will be doubly disadvantaged as it can never be said for certain that the NCTC would never misuse the UAP Act.

This makes us fully endorse Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik when he requests the Prime Minister “to review this order which has draconian overtones”. In a timely letter to the PM on Monday, Patnaik has asked, “Would it not have been advisable for the Union Government to have prior consultation with the State Governments?” To him, “this clearly seems to be an infringement on the federal structure of States as enshrined in the Constitution of India”.

Sahitya Award 2011: Stay lifted and Case Dismissed; But Questions Stay

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Presently in New York City, I have no direct access to the Orissa High Court Verdict on Sahitya Award, 2011. The verdict is not yet placed in its website.

But from what I gather from sources online, the High Court has lifted the stay it had imposed on presentation of the Award and has dismissed the PIL that had challenged the Award, holding that the issue does not fit into a PIL. The issue of PIL and maintainability thereof is dealt with by different courts from different angles at different times and in matters of law interpretations often differ.

So without any prejudice, it can be said that the Sahitya Award 2011 in Oriya chapter has been saved on technical ground.

In my discussions on this award, I had raised various points pertinent to the Award on the basis of the Sahitya Akademi Rules. I had found that the Rules of the Akademi in matter of selection of the book ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ for the Award were blatantly contravened. I do not know, if those points were also raised in the case before the High Court. I cannot say if the Court has gone into the merit aspect of the Award. I can be clear on this aspect only after perusing the verdict of the Court. But on what online information helps me grasp, I am afraid, the Award has not been cleared on the basis of the merit of the Award. So, perhaps, the questions I had raised on the Award in these pages stay despite disposal of the PIL by the Court. We can return to the issue after reading the verdict.

President Should No More Remain Pratibha Patil

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Every human being has a name. But every human being is not a President of a Republic. In public life, therefore, the name does not matter. Position matters. After occupying a position, the person is required to act as the position calls for, not according to habits practiced under the name.

When Smt. Pratibha Patil was chosen President of the Republic, we had opined that she should leave behind her loyalty to the Congress Party run by Sonia-Singh combine and act in the manner befitting the dignity of the highest office.

Sadly, she has failed.

Double standard

Her double standard in dealing with cases of flagitious offenses makes a mockery of national faith the founding fathers had bestowed upon the President. If she is delaying for years her decisions on mercy petitions, oblivious of how that frustrates the judicial wisdom even of the Supreme Court, she is seen to have acted with extraordinary promptness to shatter the business of the Parliament so that impeachment proceedings against a judicial black sheep could be stopped.

Her protection to enemies of India

It is not that it is not known that there are enemies of Indian Republic amongst the convicted criminals that have, behind them, the support of foreign countries, when in Sonia-Singh power horizon, eagerness to serve foreign interests is not indiscernible.

Why the President is sleeping over petitions of criminals convicted with death sentences for years and keeping judicial orders inoperative by not disposing them off in the quickest possible time is not being explained to public even though their crime against the country, established through approval of the death sentences by the Supreme Court, calls for immediate execution of the death penalty.

The role of Smt. Patil in this matter is so gravely anti-nation that it is essential to amend the Constitution to ensure that after capital punishment awarded or approved by the Supreme Court, the clemency power should vest in a larger bench of the apex court, not in the President, who supposedly has no expertise in weighing whether or not the final judicial verdict is as per the laws of the land; and who, moreover, is a person nominated by the ruling party on the basis of his/her loyalty to the ruling coterie.

Her susceptibility to wishes of ruling coterie

She is so much susceptible to secret orders from the ruling coterie that she acted super-expeditiously to protect justice Soumitra Sen – a corrupt judge of Kolkata High Court, just when he was going to be removed through impeachment. She made a farce of her powers and position and did not hesitate to frustrate the Parliament. In her eagerness to please the political coterie that helped her occupy the top office, she showed unprecedented promptness in attending to Sen’s requirement to preempt the impeachment. She even did not hesitate to accept Sen’s resignation on a holiday like Sunday despite knowing that Monday was fixed by the Parliament to take up the impeachment motion against the judge. The tainted judge was even given the chance to make corrections in his application for resignation, without rejecting the defective document received originally. It is unthinkable that a President played such tricks on the Parliament. Had she not acted according to secret instructions from the people who run the government and whose nominee she was for the office, the government should have taken steps to impeach her for having rendered the pending business of the house inconsequential. So, it is clear that in derailing the parliament business, she had carried out secret orders of the ruling coterie.

The government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh has the history of succumbing to lobby in specific cases and in preempting the impeachment of justice Sen, his lobby succeeded. No other reason comes to our mind for the President accepting the defective resignation of justice Soumitra Sen, on a Sunday when the Loksabha was in midst of impeaching him on Monday.

Instead of acting as the President of India, sadly, the President has acted the Sonia-Singh loyal Pratibha Patil in this case. That she is more loyal to Sonia-Singh coterie than to India, as observed in her conduct in Sen’s matter, makes it clear that despite being the President, she has remained Pratibha Patil.

We have no reason to think otherwise.

Conduct of Salman Khursid confirms our fear

Justice Sen had faxed his resignation to the President on Thursday. It was known to the Government. It was known to the government that if the President accepts the resignation, the Loksabha will have to abort its motion for impeachment. Being the law minister, Salman Khurshid should have then rushed to the President to apprise her of the illegality of acceptance of the resignation in view of pendency of the motion in the Loksabha. But he did not. After the resignation was notified, on September 6, 2011, in the afternoon, the same Salman Khurshid moved the motion to drop the impeachment in Loksabha, which was declared accepted by the Speaker on the basis of the “sense of the House”.

Patil protects Khurshid

Now the Election Commission of India has found Khurshid guilty of willful contravention of the model code and the President has been moved by the EC to take necessary action against Khurshid.

But the expeditiousness the President displayed in Sen’s case is conspicuous by its absence in the EC case against Khurshid.

She has tried to delay the matter through the Prime Minister. The trick has helped Khurshid to write to the EC to convey his respect to the election authority. If the letter satisfies the EC in matter of its ego, and resultantly it develops a lenient view, what should the President do? Will she then hold that, with the EC being satisfied over the apology tendered by Khurshid, there was no offense in existence?

Be it clear that ego satisfaction of the EC is not the issue. Issue is: willful contravention of election laws by the law minister of the country while electioneering in a State.

Offense against democracy continues

In such an offense against democracy, the minimum action expected of the President, is that, she should instruct the PM to save democracy from being derailed by enemies of democracy like Salman Khurshid.

But, for this, the country needs a President, not a Pratibha Patil.

MUFP CONDEMNED BHUSAN STEEL FOR THREATENING MEDIA PERSONS : FACT FINDING TEAM TO VISIT SPOT SOON


In a protest meeting held on Tuesday, 14 February 2012, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press ( MUFP ) has strongly condemned the move by Bhushan Steel Ltd, to implicate two Dhenkanal journalists in a case they have chosen to file against their striking workers. The company in its FIR has not only named Sri
Pradeep Senapati ( ETV ) and Sri Jayant Nath ( The Sambad ) who had gone to cover the workers’ strike as co-accused but also has mentioned them as media persons ! The MUFP has described this as a nasty and frontal attack on press freedom designed to terrorize and silence the media which has played a major role in exposing Bhushan’s blatant violations of environmental laws,exploitation of the local people as well as its miserable safety standards that have caused the death of over a hundred workers.

The MUFP has asked Bhushan Steel to withdraw the case filed against the two media persons with immediate effect failing which media persons across the state will be forced to launch a state-wide agitation. It also questioned the role of local police who had no qualms accepting the FIR that named two media persons in the list of accused.

While expressing solidarity with Sri Senapati and Sri Nath, the MUFP has warned private investors in the state against such black practices.

The MUFP has decided to send a 3-member delegation to Dhenkanal on a
fact-finding mission. The Committee will talk to all parties involved including the district administration and its final report will be submitted to the Governor of Odisha, the Speaker of the State Assembly, the Chief Minister, the Leader of Opposition as well as all MLAs during the budget session.

At the protest meeting which was attended by a large media delegation from Dhenkanal , Sri Pradeep Senapati of ETV and Sri Jayant Nath of the Sambad narrated their bitter experiences with the Bhushan Steel Ltd and the Dhenkanal police. Senior journalists and MUFP Presidium members Sri Prasanta Patnaik and Sri Rabi Das came down heavily on the steel company for their audacious attempt to implicate and harass journalists who refuse to sign along dotted lines. They also condemned the district administration for their alleged complicity in the matter and its failure to protect the rights and dignity of media persons engaged in their professional duty.