Drum-beating of imagined dreams stupefies Orissa, as the Country has failed to punish Biju Patnaik for his treason during Chinese Aggression

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

There is a Government in Orissa that is in power for twelve years as the people are stupefied under deafening drum-beating of imagined dreams of the incumbent Chief Minister’s father, late Biju Patnaik.

The opponents of the Chief Minister in the ruling party have formed a front of their own called Jan Morcha. And, this Morcha also beats the drum of dreams of Biju Patnaik!

If anything, this is an act of vested interest political acrobats to keep the people stupefied, so that vote catching can be easier for them.

I have tried to locate if Biju had really any dreams for the people of Orissa. I have found none. I have not found any dream that Biju Patnaik had for the people of Orissa. The man, who did not make his son learn even a single alphabet in Oriya language, cannot be taken as a man, who had dreams for Orissa. If he had any dream, that was only for occupying power to misuse power for his personal benefit. But yet, drum-beating of Biju dreams has been stupefying the political conscience in Orissa. Goebbels prevails when people are too gullible to go for the truth.

The truth is that Biju was a profit fetcher from politics. He had entered into politics to drag in funds and profits for his industries and eventually had left the industrial life as politics appeared to him to be the easiest way to fetch fabulous wealth without any botheration for cultivating and repaying loans, organizing markets and paying salaries.

So, politics for Biju was a profession for personal profit. And, in pursuit of profit, he was always trying to fetch and stay in power. His sycophants are trying to hide this reality under torrents of cooked up Biju dreams.

We have heard the deafening drumbeats of Biju dreams by both the quarreling fractions of the ruling party named after him on October 19, as the Chief Minister’s mega meeting at Berhampur militated against the dissidents’ press meet at Bhubaneswar on the same day. Therefore it would be proper to recall a particular episode of Biju’s life that had occurred 50 years ago when October 19 had metamorphosed into October 20, 1962, to get a glimpse of his dreams in pursuit of which he was using political power.

On that day, China had attacked India. And in that war, India had to suffer the most ignominious defeat after independence, because persons like Biju Patnaik had their dreams to fulfill.

Brig. John Delvi in his book ‘Himalayan Blunder’ has pointed out that India lost more than 11000 square kilometers of her land to China in the 1962 war because of lack of basic essentials like warm clothing, snow boots, and glasses.

Why the Indian Army had not got these essential supplies? This is because; Biju Patnaik had played the treachery.

He had fetched a contract to airdrop essential supplies to our soldiers in the NEFA front. But, instead of delivering the essentials to our soldiers, he had sold away the same in black-markets (Lok Sabha Debates (V) (1967) 7980-7990). Because of this treason, our soldiers had lost their stamina to fight and we were in the worst of debacles after our independence.

This particular debate was generated in the environment of availability of Lt. General B. M. Kaul’s accounts on our war debacle in his book ‘The Untold Story’, published on January 01, 1967.

In this book, he had attributed the defeat partly to inadequate supply of essential necessities too.

Biju Patnaik had obtained the contract for supply of essential necessities through his Kalinga Airways in the border to our forces engaged in defense of our land. But, instead of delivering the supply to the soldiers, he had sold them in the black-market at Calcutta, at Dibrugarh, at Jorhat and other places. In the Lok Sabha debate mentioned above, when Hem Barua had rued over this, S. M. Banerjee had pointed out that when in the snow-clad battlefield on the border our soldiers were in dire need of basic essentials like warm clothing, and some of the countries like West Germany had rushed profuse amount of top quality woolens like blankets, pullovers, shocks and snow-shoes etc for use of our fighting forces, that never reached them, as the rich people grabbed them for their own comfort through the black-market fed by Kalinga Airwayss of Biju Patnaik.

Despite having sold the essential defense supplies in the black-market, Biju Patnaik had bagged Rs. 1, 78, 33, 416.00 from the exchequer towards charges of their delivery in the border (Prime Minister Nehru’s reply to Surendranath Dwivedi in the Lok Sabha on 25 January 1963)

General Kaul had tried to hush up Biju’s offenses by attempts to divert public attention from Biju to Krishna Menon for India’s debacle. He has tried to convince us that Kalinga Airways could not carry out the supply, because Krishna Menon refused to grant Biju the necessary financial assistance for procuring more aircraft to use in transportation of essentials for the soldiers. He has written,

“Bijoo Patnaik, whom I had known for many years, and who had not yet become the Chief Minister, Orissa, came to see me in my office one day. …….. He told me, a fact which I knew, that owing to the limited resources of the Air Force, the External Affairs Ministry were maintaining the far-flung Assam Rifles military posts by air-drops in NEFA through the Kalinga Airways which was one of his concerns. Due to shortage of planes – which was, in turn, due to shortage of foreign exchange – the Kalinga Airways were unable to carry out this commitment fully. He, therefore, asked me if I could persuade my Defense Minister, Krishna Menon, to help in this matter by getting him the necessary foreign exchange for purchase of the additional aircraft. ………. I approached the Defense Minister ……… Krishna Menon told me that on no account was he prepared to help Kalinga Airways as it would indirectly mean that the Air Force, one of the Services under him, was incapable of carrying out this commitment. ……… No amount of argument on my part, however, was of any avail. The result was that the Assam Rifles posts remained inadequately supplied and in fact we were prevented at times from establishing more such posts, due to logistical reasons, which was operationally necessary”.

From Kaul’s accounts it is clear that the Assam Rifles military posts were being maintained by air-drops in NEFA through Biju Patnaik, much before China attacked us. And, more significantly, the Defense Minister, who was averse to his department’s contract with Biju Patnaik for the air-drops of essentials in the NEFA border, was not able to undo the contract. Obviously Biju’s patron was more powerful than the Defense Minister in deciding whether or not Biju was to continue with the contract. This most powerful man was Prime Minister Nehru. Because of Nehru, Krishna Menon was not able to discard Biju Patnaik.

Why did Menon reject Kaul’s pleadings for for Biju? It is because, he was aware of Biju’s profit motive and the illegalities Kalinga airways was involved with under his avarice. He was not willing to equip Biju with further opportunity to expand his business of treachery.

Biju had committed many offenses against the country even before the Chinese attack. One of these offenses was unauthorized use of an aircraft of his company- known to defense intelligence as a plane under contract with their department – on 26 October 1959 in secret service of a group of unidentified persons that had traveled to and fro between Calcutta and Bombay.

Questionable conduct of Biju’s airways, specifically as the defense of the country was involved, was inquired into through a committee headed by Katju. The findings of this Committee were devastating.

Had its report been placed before the Parliament in its entirety, Prime Minister Nehru’s short-sighted patronization to Biju and the felonies perpetrated through Kalinga Airways could have come to public knowledge. Therefore, Nehru’s government claimed privilege over the report and denied even the MPs to go through it, though on December 01, 1960, the Lok Sabha was fed with a vetted synopsis thereof after a lot of ruckus.

Biju was so much under the Prime Minister’s protection that the government had come out with a written statement that even though the Katju Committee had found massive irregularities committed by Kalinga airways, the government was not to terminate the contract with him.

However, the government would keep watchful eyes on Kalinga Airways so that no further irregularities it can commit, the minister had promised to the House.

But despite the promise given to the Parliament, the government failed to keep eyes on Biju, as a result of which, the defense supplies did not reach the soldiers in the battle field, but fetched profit for Biju from the black-market in places like Calcutta, Dibrugarh and Jorhat.

Minister of State (Home)Vidya Charan Shukla, as he then was, had told Atal Behari Vajpayee in reply to his star question bearing No. 785 on 28 June 1962, that the Public Accounts Committee had found many specific illegalities and forgeries,which the Kalinga Airways of Biju Patnaik had committed. He had informed that on the basis of the report, a committee of inquiry had been appointed to go into the details of the offenses and to recommend specific action to be taken. But no action was taken against him.

When the war was going on, Kalinga Airways had at least 1600 unauthorized flights on the war front. This was a serious offense. The PAC had located this offense. Who had funded these 1600 unauthorized flights over the border where the war was going on, and in the most sensitive time, has not been determined. But, surprisingly, after conclusion of the PAC report, the number of the suspicious and unauthorized flights was tampered with and in place of 1600, the figure was projected as 200. As Mr. G. G. Swell queried on who tampered with the figure of the unauthorized flights, Minister Shukla had declared, that the committee investigating into the specific offenses of Kalinga Airways, would also look into this mischief.

But, Biju never got the punishment he deserved for these offenses and treachery against the country when India was engaged in the war. Evidently though we lost 12000 square kilometers in the war, as our soldiers did not get the life-saving essentials, as Biju’s airways fed the black-markets with the same instead of air-dropping them in our military posts, the country has not yet punished him for the treason he committed. He escaped, because any action against him could also have brought to limelight the wrongful patronization Nehru had given to Biju oblivious of harms that was causing to the country.

The whereabouts of Kalinga Airways was not kept track of. The loss the nation suffered was not determined. The pilots of the airways without whose collaboration Biju could not have committed the illegalities were never interrogated. But reports were in print media that some of the aircraft had faced accidents that extinguished also the pilots whom the nation should have once interrogated to know the truth.

The drum-beaters of Biju-dreams are befooling the people by taking advantage of the country’s failure to punish him for his treason during the Chinese aggression. The Opposition Congress is not in a position to expose Biju’s treacheries; because thereby the bungling that Nehru had made, would also be exposed.

In such circumstances, use your conscience.

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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.