ORISSA NEEDS RELIEF FROM THE DISEASE CALLED BIJU PATNAIK


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

BIJU Patnaik was the tallest man of Orissa during his days and he was a charismatic man whose foes were also his admirers on various grounds.

Many people say, he had noticeable respect for his critics. Yet, during his last term in office, the Press Accreditation Rules was amended with retrospective effect to demolish my professional status, because my animadversions on his public life were not palatable to the power hankering man. Lest the hidden design comes out, the mandarines had used the amendment against my group. We had challenged this mischief in the Orissa High Court and won the battle. His government had got a stricture.

But I must admit, he was a man, who had profound appreciations for the brave. I will narrate an experience.

bijubabu watchig scpDespite failure of conciliation, the Government was not referring an industrial dispute for adjudication.It was a dispute between a working journalist and a newspaper with which the then Chief Minister was directly involved. I was the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists and was conducting the case from the journalist’s side. The Industrial Disputes Act has given a carte blanche to the Government to decide whether or not a dispute should be referred for adjudication. As this carte blanche was being misused in the instant case, I had declared to set fire to the I.D.Act before the Assembly in order to force legislative attention to misuse of the law. On being notified of this, Biju Patnaik rushed to the spot. The Assembly was in session. The area was full of armed police. Setting fire to a law of the land in front of the Assembly when the House was in session was certainly not without risk. But with Biju Patnaik witnessing the event, the police stayed transfixed. Such was his charisma. The Government had to declare instantly in the House that the dispute shall be referred for adjudication sans any delay.

I feel sorry to say that his son Naveen Patnaik, incumbent Chief Minister of my State, has made this charismatic man a posthumous political disease from which Orissa needs relief if democracy is to be kept in good health.

The two latest instances of the mischief are Biju Kandhamal Yojana and Biju Gajapati Yojana,for which the state Exchequer is being forced to cough up funds. These are of the same genre as is the existing exchequer eater Biju KBK Yojana.

In these two new designs, every Block of the two districts of Kandhamal and Gajapati would get Rs.1.5 crores each from the state revenue for injecting into the minds of the most illiterate, undernourished and gullible inhabitants of those undeveloped areas that it is Biju whose posthumous grace is being available to them through his son in the form of basic amenities.

The CM has kept a set of words like “dreams of Biju Patnaik” to attire these State funded works for their use as political traps to catch voters. Everybody knows, though an alien to Orissa, he could become its Chief Minister, when after Biju’s demise, his sycophants shrewdly cultivated the common man’s obituary sympathy for his family to grow into ballots in his favor in the immediate elections that followed. And, he knows that as long as the peoples are kept befooled by coinages like “dreams of Biju” matching every possible State funded welfare programme getting named after him, there should be no difficulty in goading the gullible voters into his support. This is why Navin has been forcing the State Exchequer to fund projects named after his father.

No doubt, Biju was a big man with many fans. But he was such a man who had more foes than fans in Orissa. He had made many of his fans become foes because of his practice of corruption when in power. As here in these pages we have shown several times, once successful in hoodwinking gullible people of Orissa to grab power, he was soon being marked for contempt against the peoples and all-round corruption and the people of Orissa were not taking rest till terminating his tenure. Records of election show that once elected, he was being turned down at least twice in elections in Orissa. So naming welfare programs after him like the three noted supra is nothing but misuse of State exchequer by the incumbent Chief Minister for self and family glorification, which read with the September Order of the Supreme Court against UP CM Mayawati’s statue building spree, is illegal.

Glorification of players of power game at the expense of the State Exchequer is a disease that has affected democracy in India. The name of this disease in Orissa is Biju Patnaik.

Democracy needs be saved from it.

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BUDGET PRESENTED, EYE BROWS RAISED

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Branded by the Leader of Opposition as a product of obfuscation and a sample of financial farce, the State Budget for 2007-08 was presented on June 1 by Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadei in Orissa Assembly in the last moment of the day.

It is a full-fledged Budget, as the Finance minister puts it, over and above the Vote-on-Account Budget passed in the month of March.

“Taking into account the State’s own tax and non-tax revenue, State’s share from central taxes and grant-in-aid from Centre, while State’s total revenue receipt during 2007-08 has been estimated at Rs.19467.20 crores, the revenue expenditure has been estimated at Rs.18421.44 crores. As against the revenue surplus of Rs.481.44 crores and Rs.747.76 crores in 2005-06 and 2006-07 (revised estimate) respectively, it has been estimated at Rs.1045.76crores for 2007 -08”, said the Minister.

On the other hand, according to him, “in the Capital Account, the estimated expenditure would be more by Rs.1220.43 crores than the receipt. The expenditure on account of Capital Outlay, disbursement of loans and repayment of installment of earlier loans taken together would be more than the receipts from the loans and advances from different sources together with the recovery of loans. In toto, the deficit in the consolidated fund has been estimated at Rs.174,67,04,000/- and an equal amount has been estimated as surplus in he Public Account. On the whole, the receipts and expenditure have been balanced taking into account the Revenue account, Capital Account and Public Account together”

So, he claimed, “This is a balanced Budget with revenue surplus”.

The departmental Standing Committees would of course review and react on the provisions before the House takes up voting on demands for grants.

But as is now discernible, the contractor friendly departments like Water Resources and Work have received larger chunks when the largest chunk is offered to the department of School and Mass Education, keeping in mind construction and maintenance need of buildings under its control spread in every nook and corner of the State. When Water Resources department is offered with Rs.1140.75 crores and Works department with Rs.1118.89 crores, this department is favored with Rs.2196.98 crores.

In the small allocation segment, placed are the departments of Forest & Environment (387.19cr.), Higher Education (455.63 cr) and Agriculture (479.88 cr). Even the department of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development that addresses around half of the State’s population, all most all of whom are in dire despondency has got a small allocation of Rs.599.72 crores, agendas proposed therein not being alluring to contractors.

This is just to mention a few instances.

However, the MLAs have been given a royal treat by offer of Rs.147 crores to their Local Area Dvelopment domains including a sum of Rs.36.75 crores for expenditure with retrospective effect. Their per capita quota has been increased from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.75 lakh, which justifies this, the Finance Minister has said.

In the Budget, large chunks of Rs.170 crores are earmarked to inculcate Biju Patnaik, the father of the present Chief Minister, as the fountainhead of development, in the minds of the electorate, for his sheer personalized political gain, as he has no political entity other than his father’s identity.

Biju Patnaik was a business operator turned politician who was repeatedly rejected by the people for his corrupt practices and even before his demise, people of Orissa had thrown him out of power for his malfeasances.

It is a shame that when the entire amount of offer to development of agriculture, as highlighted by Ghadei constitutes a paltry sum of Rs.34.68 crores, only two items meant to make a propaganda of Biju’s name, are offered with Rs.170 crores!

The Finance Minister has bragged over enhancement of State Plan under Agriculture department from Rs.48.08 crores in 2006-07 to Rs.60.65 crores in 2007-08. But this entire amount is not even 37 percent of what has been placed for propaganda of Biju’s name.

We had earlier thrown light on the notoriety called Biju K.B.K.Yojana. This Budget has put 120 crores under this mischief. A new mischief has been added to this in the style of Biju Gram Jyoti. A sum of Rs.50 crores has been allotted to this. Thus a total sum of Rs.170 crores is allocated in the Budget to what can be termed as the Biju-propaganda fund.

For such a notorious purpose, when a sum of Rs.170 crores is proposed to be spent, the Western Orissa Development Council, considered the last hope for Orissa’s survival in her present geographical form, is given only Rs.30 crores in the Budget.

The Orissa State Employment Mission, meant to ensure employment to the starving people of the State, is assured with only Rs.16.10 crores. It constitutes less than 10 per cent of the Biju-propaganda fund created in the Budget as shown supra.

When the assertionists of so-called Biju legacy in our parliament claim credit for having harped on establishment of National Institute of Science in Orissa under direction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who, according to them, puts utmost emphasis on science education, the Budget has proposed a provision of only Rs.20 lakhs for the Orissa Science Academy. How does this amount appear when compared with the Rs.170 crores Biju-propaganda fund highlighted in the Budget?

Juxtapose other items of development too with the Biju-propaganda fund and see the difference. The Finance Minister has highlighted allocation of Rs.100 crores for rural development. The Biju-propaganda fund is higher than this by Rs.70 crores. The Finance Minister has highlighted that Rs.3 crores has been provided for “preparation and display of high quality cinema and for promotion of tourism”. It does not constitute even 2 percent of the Biju-propaganda fund!

What wonder then is there if the Leader of Opposition calls this Budget a product of obfuscation and a sample of financial farce!

A NEW TAMMANY NOW TARGETS KBK

DEMOCRACY NEEDS THIS NUISANCE BE DEFEATED

A new tammany now targets KBK even as whole of Orissa is taken for a ride. It stares at us from the Ramparts of our Democracy. Take note.

The eighth session of Orissa Legislative Assembly began on July 31 and ended on August 12 generating an alarming impression that it has been degraded from a Rampart of Democracy to a bailiwick of Biju traders who thrive on his posthumous value by contriving ever newer advertisements to push him into the voters’ psyche.

This session witnessed two such advertisements. First: blocking businesses of the House by the treasury bench in the guise of protest against destruction of a statue of Biju Patnaik in a rural public place and Second: announcement of a state plan for KBK districts in the name of Biju Patnaik to be styled as “Biju KBK Plan” in the guise of protest against the Center’s decision to change its strategy in respect to this region.

I have discussed the motive behind the first one and have shown how he was being rejected by the people of Orissa time and again all through his life for his mafia manners, corrupt practices and treachery against the Country. In those discussions I had expressed apprehensions that the mischief of Biju statue was a neo-Nazi method to cow down opponents by cultivating him posthumously to a cult figure, so that the present pack of power-grabbers including and under his son Naveen Patnaik can go on bagging terrified votes to keep Orissa under their pernicious grip. The second one has confirmed this mischief.

When the Assembly was winding down its last session on August 11, Naveen announced in the House that the Central Government has refused to renew the Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) for KBK and asserted in the same breath that instead of going to the Center with a begging bowl, he will launch a new plan for KBK as “Biju KBK Plan” and allot Rs. 600 crores for its implementation. He declared that his father Biju Patnaik had created the KBK Plan which the central Government has now stopped. Therefore the State Plan for KBK will be named as Biju KBK Plan. The announcement was so sudden and shocking that the Opposition was at a loss to understand its mischief.

The next day, i.e. the concluding day of the Session, the Opposition, particularly the Congress, alleged that the Chief Minister has misled the Assembly by not placing the real fact before the House. But no sooner than that the House was dragged into controversies raised on individual members in such a fashion that this vital issue got sidetracked.

Therefore the question that still hunts is: Is the Chief Minister correct in claiming that his father had created the KBK Plan? Is it proper to name the KBK Plan as Biju KBK Plan? As annals reveal, Naveen Patnaik has tried to mislead our people.

When his father Biju was perishing under continuous rejection by the people of Orissa, and J.B.Patnaik was the Chief Minister, it was determined that the two most backward districts of the State, Koraput and Kalahandi suffer so acutely because of two basic factors: one, hill area backwardness and two, backwardness due to severe natural calamities like draughts and floods that ravage the area in quick succession.

Hence J.B.Patnaik took up the matter with the Center in 1986 vide Official Press Note dt. 11.11.1986.

Consequent upon this a Special Sub-Plan called Area Development Approach for Poverty Termination (ADAPT) to ensure poverty amelioration by provision of round the year employment to the rural poor and readjustment of cropping pattern keeping in mind the natural calamities was formulated and implemented in 1988. It covered fifteen Blocks in these two districts, 8 in Kalahandi and 7 in Koraput.

It was experienced that such target oriented special programs can bring out a change. Therefore, basing on this experience, attempts were made to expand the targeted area with higher quantum of funds.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi facilitated this by asking the Planning Commission to draw up a Special Plan for the area adding the adjoining as well as tribal dominated district of Bolangir to the two Districts already under ADAPT. He underlined that Orissa being inadequate in funds, the entire Special Plan must be cent percent centrally supported.
Thus came the KBK Special Plan.

Biju had no role in it at all. On the contrary, Biju was the man who was responsible for its staggering.

In fact, had there been no Congress Government in the Center, the KBK Plan would have been killed by Biju.

His priority was privatization of Public Sector, not poverty amelioration. So after Rajiv Gandhi resigned and V.P.Singh took over the Prime Minister Chair on 2 Dec.1989, the program got lost.

Allying with VP, Biju usurped Orissa on 5 March 1990. But during the entire tenure of VP, the KBK Plan remained abandoned. Chandrasekhar succeeded VP on 10 Nov. 1990 and resigned on 21 June 1991. Biju was continuing as Orissa CM. But KBK never came to his priority list.

When the whole Country was eager to hand over its reign to Rajiv again, he was assassinated by the stooges of privatization and P.V.Narasimha Rao, under whom Man Mohan Singh enjoyed immunity in destroying our Constitution’s commitment to socialism, became Prime Minister of India on 21 June 1991.

But the Country was so emotionally one with Rajiv Gandhi that it was impossible for Narasimha Rao to jettison any of his pet projects. Therefore, Rajiv’s order for formulation of a Long Term Action Plan (LTAP) for KBK Districts got official expression in 1993.

Due to want of appropriate cooperation from Orissa under Biju, it could not proceed.

When J.B.Patnaik took over the reign of Orissa from Biju Patnaik again on 15 March 1995, the LTAP for KBK got a seven-year-shape from 1995-96 to 2001-02 with an envisaged outlay of Rs.4557.03 crores. But Man Mohan Singh as Rao’s Finance Minister had unleashed a new phase of assault on our economic priorities and the County was subjected to scams of Harshad Mehta caliber and to market-economy of WTO genre. There were no funds for welfare-economic programs like KBK LTAP. So the LTAP failed to take off.

J.B.Patnaik fought against this odd and went on harping over the urgency of implementation of the KBK LTAP before the successive Central Governments. And, ultimately he succeeded. On advice of the Central Government, Orissa under his stewardship, submitted a Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) to the Central Government in 1998 and got it approved with an outlay of Rs.6251.06 Crores envisaged for a period of nine years from 1998-99 to 2006-07.

So, if any leader of Orissa can be given credit for creation of KBK Plan (be it Sub-Plan, Special Plan, LTAP or RLTAP) he is J.B.Patnaik, the present Leader of Opposition.

Biju Patnaik had neither conceived the program nor had any contribution to its formulation and implementation. So it would be an insult to our people if a KBK Plan to be funded from our public exchequer is named after Biju.

Naveen has tried to mislead our people through a mischievous propaganda that that the Central Government has refused to renew the KBK Plan. He has suppressed the reason thereof. J.B.Patnaik had relinquished office on 17 Feb. 1999 after framing the KBK RLTAP in 1998 and obtaining Central Government approval thereon. The State plunged into the chaos caused by the super cyclone, 1999 and went into Naveen’s hand on 5 Dec.2000. So implementation of the RLTAP was left at his disposal. It was a part of the program to put a very senior officer in charge of it as Chief Administrator with Headqrs at Koraput. But Naveen Patnaik never did it. The Chief Administrator of KBK remained at Bhubaneswar under the very nose of Naveen and maximum portion of the KBK fund was looted through remote control. When a Central Government suggested that the Chief Administrator should shift to Koraput, pet politicians as well as puppet journalists were pressed into action to impress upon the people that shifting of the office of the Chief Administator to Koraput will not make any difference.

Thus, unable to check corruption in KBK, the scheme being under administrative control of the provincial government, it looked prudent for the Central Government to salvage the RLTAP from the grip of Orissa Administration in best interest of the people for whose benefit the Plan was in operation.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs decided to put all the Districts covered by KBK Plan in Backward Regions Grant Fund so that the Central Government can monitor the matters directly. The amount of the funds will not be reduced.

It is not a fact that the Chief Minister does not know it. But he is shrewd enough to divert public attention from his own failing by misuse of his position to impress upon the people that the scheme has been jettisoned by the Center. This is a wrong and crude mischief played against the federal system. This is an attempt to antagonize a section of Orissa against the Union.

Moreover, it is a method contrived to add posthumous value to Biju’s name and to make people in eight of the districts of Orissa believe that he was the man who was behind the Plan for KBK development. No better advertisement of Biju would be possible than brandishing his name in the context of KBK Plan.

We have witnessed how Naveen has dragged down the Assembly to the level of a bailiwick of his Biju traders.

But our Democracy needs that this nuisance be defeated.