New Congress Team for Orissa is a confusing incongruity: Orissa waiting for end of BJD misrule is betrayed again

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In Oriya, a saw says, “Bahu Lokare Musa Mareni” which means many people together cannot kill a mouse. Reason is: many people become confused in their collective action. The new team of Congress “appointed” for Orissa gives this impression and there is no reason to accept that it will not be more contributive to the continuing confusion in the Pradesh Congress.

We have repeatedly shown in these pages that Congress high command being a lobby body of industrialists including foreigners has been keeping the Orissa State Unit of Congress organizationally weak to help the “supremo” of BJD Naveen Patnaik, known for his eagerness to serve the avaricious big industries, even foreign based industries, continue in power sans any opposition. By “appointing” the new leadership of OPCC, the Congress high command betrayed the people of Orissa again, who are eagerly waiting for end of the present misrule. We apprehend this; because, the new team of PCC President Prasad Harichandan “appointed” by the Congress high command (CHC) is seemingly a conglomerate of confusing incongruity.

Besides ten Vice-Presidents, the CHC has “appointed” 55 Secretaries. One cannot imagine what these 55 Secretaries would do. It should have taken the opportunity of “appointing” new Secretaries to cover all the administrative departments of Orissa with one capable Secretary in charge of one department, so that people of Orissa could have got the picture of misrule in each of the administrative departments from the main Opposition Party. This is not going to happen.

If fifty five secretaries were needed for the Congress, the party should have a single General Secretary to whom these massive numbers of secretaries should have been asked to report. The party could have been led thus in a responsible manner. But, instead of one, 25 numbers of General Secretaries have been “appointed”. As if this is not enough, it has “appointed” 37 numbers of organizing secretaries over and above the 25 general secretaries and 55 secretaries.

But this is not the end. It has “appointed” five political secretaries, as if all the above 117 secretaries are non-political! Confusion! Thy name is Congress!

The CHC has “appointed” a mega committee in the guise of coordination with the PCC president as its convener. When the general secretary of AICC in charge of Orissa is its ex officio chairman, the AICC secretary in charge of Orissa is an ex officio member in this committee. The rest 20 members in this 23 strong committee are senior Stale level leaders with witnessed history of rivalry with each other. They are collectively a total anathema to the term ‘coordination’. If a coordination committee was needed, the two AICC secretaries in charge of Orissa should have been given the charge. But what gain the Congress shall bag by “appointing” such a pack of habitual practitioners of internecine rivalry as coordinators of the Pradesh Congress is a conundrum, we suspect, the Congress is unable to understand.

Even the illiterate farmers of Orissa know that over-saturation of paddy plants are counterproductive. Hence they destroy excessive paddy plants from their respective fields by way of puddling, as a practice. In over-saturating the Pradesh Congress with such massive numbers of leaders, the Congress High Command has clearly shown that it is lacking in this minimum wisdom.

If not, how shall such subjugation of the State Unit of Congress to over-saturation of “appointed” leaders be read?

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Opposition ‘NO’ is a slap on Naveen

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee has said ‘NO’ to inclusion of its member in the Committee formed by the State Government to study how Legislative Councils function in other State.

How could the Government dare to form such a Committee and include one of its MLA in the said Committee when the power of appointing any Committee of MLAs in any matter that has or may have any link with any legislative action rests only with the Assembly and/or the Speaker, asked PCC Chief Prasad Harichandan, while holding the modus operandi of the Government as anti-democracy .

Disillusionment is spreading like wildfire in the BJD, precipitated by collapse of credibility of the Chief Minister, as the tempest of investigation into chit fund and other scams and scandals has already thrown a pack of party heavyweights into jails as under-trial-prisoners; and sure that their colleagues in power have pocketed fabulous sums of money under the knowledge of or in connivance of their boss-cum-Chief Minister, many of BJD members, who matter, are strongly indicating that, they need their share of the cake. This has unnerved Naveen.

Prasad says, the Legislative Council idea, which he had mooted but the Government had not cooperated with, is being exploited at this juncture by the ruling party to tackle the contradiction it is facing following scam exposures. The government is in such squirm that it failed to think it prudent to consult at least the leader of the Congress in the Assembly, who also is the Leader of Opposition, before appointing a Congress member in the five-member committee of MLAs. The Congress party will not oblige the government in this act of illicit dwarfing of supremacy of the Assembly, he has made clear on behalf of his party.

The other large Opposition Party – the BJP – has also withdrawn its member from the Committee, holding the creation thereof arbitrary and motivated.

Opposition ‘NO’ to the government created Committee is a strong slap on the face of Naveen Patnaik, who, after hoodwinking the voters in the name of his father – made legendary with concocted legends – has indulged in “MERI RAYA SAHASAN” (whimsical administration), to quote Prasad Harichaandan.

Happiest News for Orissa: Prasad is PCC Chief

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The happiest news for Orissa is that Mr. Prasad Harichandan has been appointed today as the President of Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee.

Prasad HarichandanHonored as the First Best Legislator of the State in 2002, Prasad had put his golden signature in Orissa politics by being the most glaring candidate of Congress against Biju Patnaik in 1990.

Since his first entry into Orissa Assembly in 1995, he has enriched legislative businesses in every respect.

His efficient and sustained efforts to espouse outstanding public demands and his legislative wisdom marked in matters of law making as well as debating on topical issues has made tremendous contributions to refinement of administration.

He has earned distinction as a highly disciplined Congress leader for his exemplary participation in all major fronts of his party – the National Students Union, Indian Youth Congress and the Party proper.

Protection of environment and wild life, preservation of culture and social values are areas where his silent but steady contributions have made their unique marks.

Most importantly, he is a man of erudition, of research and knowledge.

As a minister, even though the time was short and the period was transitional, he had made the best use of his position in giving Orissa the only University of Culture of India – the Utkal university of Culture.

Orissa’s Institute of Mathematics and Application owes its origin to the efforts of Prasad. The concept of Community Policing was also his.

He is a successful fighter who has disproved the outstanding aphorism of Lord Acton that “power tends to corrupt”. He is, despite long innings in positions of power including ministership, has never indulged in any corruption.

In him, people of Orissa – in disaster by the ruling BJD; and by nature, abhorrent to communal BJP – see the best answer to their search for a leader who can bring in the desired change.

Prasad has a unique distinction of being an absolutely non-controversial personality in the Congress party. So, to save the State from BJD misrule and lurking BJP menace, it is expected that the Congress rank and file will unitedly stand with him.

Attempts to foil Health Minister’s assurance; only the rich to get safe blood!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In reply to an adjournment motion moved by Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan on 1st September 2012, Health Minister Dr. Damodar Raut had assured that Orissa would adopt NAT PCR system to ensure appropriate screening of blood to avoid AIDS from transfusion.

A boy of only 17 months was found infected with AIDS by accepting transfusion of blood obtained from Muncipal Hospital Blood Bank, Bhubaneswar. The news was broke by orissamatters.com in 8 July 2012 and Sri Harichndan had very ably brought the matter to the attention of the Assembly.

Dr. Raut in his reply noted that people of Orissa have made monumental mark in blood donation and from 126076 units in 2000; blood collection has reached 307022 units in 2011. People’s eagerness to donate blood to save the lives of fellow citizens needs be equally honored by the government’s readiness to supply safe blood to needing patients through proper screening. Therefore, Dr. Raut said, in a meeting on 22 August 2012 the Government had consulted all the Blood Bank Directors and Officers in a conference and had taken a decision to jettison the rapid test method of screening and adopt ELISA method to screen out AIDS virus in the Blood Banks.

As Harichandan pointed out that ELISA is not the latest technology to screen AIDS virus, but NAT PCR is, the Minister had appreciated the position and had assured to adopt the latest method; for nothing is more valuable than human life and moreover, as patients’ confidence in blood banks would diminish if AIDS virus escapes the deficient screening. He however had declared that the method being costly, the State would start with four major blood banks: one each attached to the three Government Medical Colleges and the Capital Hospital Blood Bank. The facility would be extended to all the Blood Banks of Orissa in course of time, he had assured the Assembly.

The Budget of Health department placed in and awaiting approval of the Assembly has made a token provision for replacement of ELISA with NAT PCR in the aforesaid four Blood Banks.

But, the Finance department has planted a rider that the cost of NAT PCR screening should be collected from the patients. If the rider is not dropped, only the rich will benefit; because the poor patients cannot afford the screening cost.

The present Finance Minister was the Minister of Health when deficient screening through old method of ELISA had infested the seventeen months old child with AIDS and the Orissa High Court had punished the state Government with cash penalty of Rs.3 lakhs for supply of HIV infested blood to the boy without perfect screening. When he is the Finance minister, his department is asking the Health department to impose such a heavy cost on poor patients on accounts of NAT PCR that it will never be possible for them to get pure blood through perfect screening!

Should the poor people have no right to safe blood? Should the latest and the safest NAT PCR screening for which the government in the Health department has put budgetary provisions on the anvil of the Assembly be available only to the rich?

Should the Finance department be allowed to foil the most welcome welfare proposal of the Health department?

Should the Assembly allow its own anxiety for safe blood to patients be steered into benefit of the moneyed men alone?

Do Maoists Obstruct Development? No, say Participants in Kanak TV Debate

Do the Maoists obstruct development? Kanak TV raised this question on its open discussion board in the IDCOL Auditorium at Bhubaneswar on May 8.

The debate was coordinated by its founder, Sri Soumya Ranjan Patnaik.

“No” was the answer by deduction, as those who denigrated the Maoists also confessed that lack of development is the root cause of Maoist evolvement.

The ‘Yes’ side comprised Orissa’s finance minister Prafulla Ghadai, Opposition Chief Whip in Orissa Assembly Prasad Harichandan and former Director General of Police in the State, Gopal Nanda.

The ‘No’ side comprised CPI leader Prof. Abani Baral, Human Rights Activist, Advocate Biswapriya Kanungo and wife of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, Smt. Mili Panda.

Smt. Panda, who is recently released from illegal incarceration, rejected the suggestion sic passim in the subject of the debate itself that development in undeveloped areas is being hindered by the Maoists. The Maoists are the active voices of the people that are victims of government apathy and negligence. Maoists oppose misappropriation of development funds and hijacking of lands and natural resources by private companies. They are emancipation activists who have been making immeasurable sacrifices to serve the cause of the wretchedly poor, said Smt. Panda. How can those, who for the rights of the voiceless majority, have left the comforts of their homes and company of their families and roam over dangerous terrains daring false encounters, cooked up prosecution and rich media’s negative publicity, go against development of the people?she asked. She presented many instances of how people perish in villages sans health care, education facilities, home to live in, food to eat and water to drink. Those, who measure democracy in the yardstick of constituencies captured, cannot measure how pathetically people live, as plans and funds meant for their development get looted in transit by politico-bureaucratic-capitalist nexus. Those that oppose this looting are being branded as Maoists, she said.

Biswapriya Kanungo pointed out that the government has banned six socio-political forums in 2006 branding them as Maoist outfits. Why are they not coming forward with details of benefits they have achieved by the ban? he asked. If the government fails to give a benevolent rule, people will certainly go against the government. If, instead of correcting the wrongs it commits, the government unleashes state terror on people for going against the government that fails to give a benevolent rule, people will retaliate. Such retaliation should not be termed as obstruction to development, he said.

Prof. Baral observed that if the money the government is spending on hounding out Maoists by the police, could have been spent on real development of the people, Maoist activities could have been fizzled out in areas like Malkangiri. People have lost their entity in the priority list of the government, which has become a prisoner of mania for mining based industries. It is wrong to assume that with spread of mining based industries poverty shall be eradicated. The areas from where these industries are acquiring their fodders are getting economically ruined day by day, he said.

Finance Minister Gadai, who, could never have gone against the government’s policy and hence could not have said anything but “yes” in answer to the question under discussion, said that the Maoists are opposing the industries though industries mean development. Value addition to raw materials should help the State fetch more funds which would facilitate more investment in development programs, which the Maoists do not understand, he said.

The former police chief was expected to say “yes” to the question under debate; because anything than “yes” could have virtually been the same as disapproval of his own action against the Maoists during his regime as DGP. So, he painted the Maoists as cancer for eradication of which surgery, medicine and care at the same time are required. Yet, he confessed that the government’s wrong economic policies are responsible for evolvement of Maoist movement, particularly in tribal areas where industries are eating away the forests and depriving the tribals of their living environment. With shrinkage of forest areas and spread of mining in hills, their natural sources of livelihood have been severely tampered with and, for sustenance, they are being forced to mortgage whatever little lands have they and in the debt traps laid by moneylenders, they are losing their lands and thus in ruins without any remedy, they are in utter frustration. Maoists are exploiting the situation, he said.

The Opposition Chief Whip, belongs as he to the Congress, which has a Prime Minister to whom Maoists are left viruses, was supposed to say “yes, the Maoists are obstructing development.” And he said this. But, he also said, since 1960, the Maoists have been gaining ground because of the unending financial straits the majority of people are thrown into. Unbearable poverty on the one side vis-a-vis accumulation of plenty in few hands in the other side has given birth to Maoists movement, which can be controlled if priority of administration is addressed in right earnest to people’s development, said Sri Harichandan.

So, by deduction, the ‘yes’ side also said that the Maoists are not the obstruction to development, when all of the debaters except the finance minister were sure that the government’s wrong economic policies and lackadaisical approach to development has caused Maoist evolvement.

GOVERNMENT GUILTY OF MISUSING POLICE, ALLEGE OPPOSITION

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Initiating Opposition observations on demands of Home as well as General Administration, whip Prasad Harichandan alleged that the government is using the Crime Branch as its shield while using the Vigilance wing as it weapon against whosoever is found disadvantageous to its design. No wonder, the Transparency International has concluded that Police is the most corrupt wing of Orissa administration, he pointed out and added, the Government, unambiguously guilty of misusing the police politically, has dragged them to such a sorry state.

He remarked that the Police in Orissa are being looked at askance by the general public as in-charge personnel invariably fail to take up speedy, appropriate, successful action against miscreants. But in reality they are jeopardized by non-provision of essential effects by the Government, he said, showing how absence of adequate manpower and work atmosphere has eclipsed their motivation.

Mr. Harichandan, trading on the Congress line on Naxalism, categorically pointed out that 12,370 posts out of 55,025 approved posts in the State’s Police set up are lying vacant due to habitual nonchalance that incorrigibly afflicts administration under the incumbent Chief Minister. Even the importance of keeping a Director General of Police stable in his post for at least two years to enable him work in perfect pursuit of his action plan is not being appreciated by the Government, he alleged.

When the top Cop is not sure of his positional stability, when as many as 36 sensitive Police Stations are not provided with vehicles and those having allotted with vehicles are in paucity of funds to procure fuel for them, when the available and assured funds for modernization of the Police are not being utilized due to dullness in administration, how does the Home department justify the demands it has placed before the Assembly, he asked.

Mr. Kalpataru Das of the ruling BJD defended the demands by projecting a picture of programs under execution and on anvil for infrastructure improvement to suit the Police set-up. His party colleague Asok Panda, however, advised the Government to appreciate that the Naxal tangle couldn’t be tackled through Police force alone. He emphasized on sincere implementation of welfare measures in rural areas to lessen the scope of Naxal expansion. Dealing with the demands of the GA department, he stressed on retention of the State’s rights over lands being given to BDA and Housing Board.

Members Amar Pr. Satapathy, Anup Sai, Prabhat Biswal, Naba kishore Das, Pratap Kumar Sarangi, Niranjan Pujari, Mamata Madhi, Jiwan Pradipta Das, Jeorge Tirki, Prafulla Majhi etc also contributed to the discussions.

In replying the debates, Chief Minister Navin Patnaik informed the House that extinguishment of Naxal fire is his government’s top priority, which, if not today, tomorrow he will accomplish. As a step towards that 4000 new home guards would soon be appointed with enhancement of their existing wage from Rs.90 to Rs.110 per day and assured engagement from 90 to 300 days a year.

IN GOVERNMENT; BUT IN CRIME AGAINST THE STATE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If you do not pay the State its dues, without any valid reason, how can one term it?

It is a crime against the State. Can one say, no? No.

Then a crime has hit our State. The perpetrators are Ministers and Leaders of Orissa. The crime is willful.

Let us rely upon Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s answer to a question in the Assembly. The pre-intermission part of the current session being hot under impact of acrimony generated due to suspected involvement of either the Chief Minister or the Chief Secretary or both in the brutal oppression let loose on poor tribal community of Kalinga Nagar, the baffling fact placed before the House by the CM escaped attention of many, this site not being an exception. But the information cannot be overlooked.

Any body watching this government must be knowing that Dr. Damodar Raut is considered weightiest amongst Naveen Patnaik’s own party ministers. He has been facing prosecution under the Orissa Public Premises Eviction Act, 1972 for having forcefully occupied Govt. quarter No. B-1 in Unit 1, Bhubaneswar for business purpose. He is to pay the State a sum of Rs. 1, 71,297.00 towards interim penalty fee as determined by the Director of Estates, Govt. of Orissa. The Rent Office is neither able to collect the penalty fee or nor to evict Sri Raut from the unauthorized occupation because of his proximity to the Chief Minister.

Another heavyweight of ruling BJD, former Minister and current Member of Parliament, Prasanna Acharya is in unauthorized occupation of one of the highest type of government quarter, i.e. VIMR-8 in Unit-6 since July 2004 and has defaulted Rs.92, 430.00.

The Congress has two former small time Chief Ministers in the defaulters list. They are Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamango, unauthorized occupants of a VIIIC and 5R type of quarters respectively. Sri Biswal’s penal dues come around Rs.2, 25,500.00 whereas Gamango is to pay Rs.1,50,550.00 as interim penalty.

Former colleague of the Chief Minister Bijay Mohapatra who heads Orissa Gana Parisad in Opposition segment is carrying a govt. overdue to the tune of Rs. 5, 03,702 .00 for unauthorized occupation of a govt. quarter in VII category since April 2000.

But none of these defaulters can vie with Bikram Keshari Deo, prince of Kalahandi and M.P. of BJP. He has not paid Rs.7,94,581.00 despite demands and kept a VII-C type of quarter in Unit-1 in forceful occupation notwithstanding eviction orders, since April 1998. BJP heavyweight Ved Prakash Agrawal, who when Food and Civil Supplies Minister was more marked for his sympathy with the Millers oblivious of their role in distress sale of paddy, is to pay a sum of Rs. 2,22,801.00 to the Govt. as interim penalty over unauthorized occupation of govt. qrs after order of eviction following his loss of entitlement to official accommodation.

If the seniors could set a trend, why should a junior lag behind? Look at Dharmendra Pradhan, President of BJP Juva Morcha and M.P. He has not paid penal license fee applicable to unentitled persons though under his unauthorized possession is lying government quarter No.VIB-4/2 since 17 Nov.2005. He is to pay more than half a lakh of Rupees.

Though compelled to reveal this picture in the House, the Chief Minister is yet to inform the public as to why his machinery has failed to recover the huge money from his core colleagues and who has clipped down the eviction wings of the department of General Administration of which he himself is the Minister.

Prasad Harichandan of Congress, a former minister, held to be in unauthorized occupation of a government quarter since June 2004 says, he will comply with the Special Accommodation Rules the moment he finds that the Chief Minister has made his party colleagues pay their outstanding dues and vacated the quarters under their illegal occupation.