POWER FAMINE // FOOTPRINTS OF TREACHERY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

As severe load shedding is torturing Orissa, we deem it proper to dwell upon the past that has given birth to the present predicament.

In the preceding posting, my attached Oriya article depicts the details of how the then chief minister Biju Patnaik had sabotaged the State by obliterating the Orissa State Electricity Board to amass personal wealth, as suggested by the shrewdly executed scam involving a foreign firm called K.P.M.G. Management Consultant.

The situation has become catastrophic in the ongoing regime of his son, as established by unprecedented power-cut in the rainy season at the moment.

I am giving yet another dose of my dealing with the subject in Oriya language, published then in my column SINGHABALOKANA for the people of Orissa to know the footprints of treachery that has overwhelmed the State.

The attached article is scanned from my book of the same title and carries the date of its first publication in Orissa’s mainstream major, The Sambad.

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POWER FAMINE: BIJU TO NAVEEN

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Load-shedding or power-cut: call it in any term; the tormenting reality is that, people in Bhubaneswar are now forced to go without electricity for two hours every day. In rural areas where grey-shedding is a regular feature, total load-shedding exceeds 5 hours a day in most of the villages. Our earlier fear that Orissa is heading towards power famine is coming true.

In these pages of ORISSA MATTERS, we have several in-depth discussions on possible power famine with stress on how to avoid the debacle. But Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has never bothered about what we have said.

Now as the reality has so severely hit the State, it is necessary for the people of Orissa to know who has dragged them into this labyrinth of load-shedding.

To facilitate more and more people of Orissa understand the syndrome, I will put below one of my earlier discussions in Oriya as published in my column SINGHABALOKANA in Sambad a decade ago, portending the debacle of today.

They are scanned from my book of the same title. In the article I am to insert below, I have shown how for dubious reasons the then chief minister (father of the present CM) Biju Patnaik had dismantled the well-equipped and highly competent Orissa State Electricity Board and, hand-in-glove with the world capitalist syndicate, how had he privatized electricity in total disregard to the interest of Orissa. In this article a scam involving Biju was also exposed.

Peruse the article and know the saboteurs.

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A Surly Editorial and the Unseen Side of Money to Media

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A surly editorial in minister Damodar Raut’s daily newspaper ‘Sanchar’ makes us infer that the money offered to journalists at Puri by Member of Parliament Pinaki Mishra, when he was addressing the Press as President of the Parliamentary Committee on Urban Development, was deliberate and as per plan of BJD, eager to escape further exposure in chit fund and other scams.

Thrashed by severe protests over the mischief, and possibility of police action upon FIR lodged in the area PS, Mishra has termed it as “gift” and has rejected the allegation that it was an attempt to bribe the Press. “Gift to journalist” is not defined as an offense under the IPC, he has said. This shows, he has made a lot of mental exercise to escape prosecution after being caught with the corpus delicti for attempt to bribe the scribes.

Attention of the Press Council of India has been attracted to the condemnable conduct of the MP. If it entertains the allegation, bribe or gift whatever be it, would get weighed on the matrix of Press Freedom. And, I am sure, Mishra would be censored by the PCI, where the Indian Parliament has also its representation. Pinaki is conscious of what is to happen.

Therefore, he is in fidgets. The idea of describing the bribe he offered to media persons as “gift to journalists” could not have come to his mind had he not been in fidgets.

Two Mistakes

The MP has done two mistakes by linking UCO Bank to the money distribution.

Firstly, he has asserted that by handing over the money-carrying kits to journalists, the UCO Bank has done no wrong; because, Parliamentary practices provide for such services.

This is a very wrongful assertion.The reigning guidelines on tour of Parliamentary Committees do not support this claim. Therefore, BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra has termed it as an offense against dignity of the Parliament and has demanded that the Speaker of Lok Sabha, where Mishra is a member, should divest him immediately of his chair of the Parliamentary Committee that visited Puri.

And, if Bijay is not ignored by his party bosses, the point he has raised would sure hit the Parliament and if UCO Bank has really been used by the Parliamentary Committee on visit to Orissa by the chairman thereof, the Speaker would sure give him a stricture, if not dismissal.

Secondly, by exposing the UCO Bank link, he has generated a justified suspicion that he and/or his colleagues in the BJD Syndicate are holding black money in secret accounts in that Bank, so that such secret money could flow in without his signature into the money-carrying kits offered to journalists by the said Bank.

The black money angle
should be investigated into

It is imperative that the central government should investigate into the black money angle and keep the records before the public, so that the discomforting suspicion would come to an convincing end.

Therefore, the ethicality in using UCO Bank in an attempt to influence the Press and the possibility of black money stashed by BJD in the UCO Bank are issues to be looked into by the Parliament and Central Government respectively.

Mens rea

But for us the point for cogitation is: why at all Pinaki Mishra, MP of the party of Orissa’s Chief Minister, preferred a paltry sum of Rs.200/- to be offered to each of the journalists that attended his Press Conference at Puri on records? What was the mens rea?

The query pushes us towards a greater conspiracy to destroy dignity of media when, because of media activism, the BJD supremo’s credibility is suffering sharp erosion. The journalists are exposing the discernible details of the scams and of the investigations or lack of investigations thereinto, to the utmost chagrin of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. No other chief minister had attracted so much suspicious eyes over so many scams and loot of natural resources and tyrannic oppression on indigenous people for benefit of non-Oriya and foreign industries. In no other regime, resounding steps of compradors were so menacingly overwhelming the State administration. Slowly but steadily the curtain is being raised by the Press and the nasty inner color of the ‘MahakalaPhala’ (Trichosanthes Palmata) coming out. Naveen is to be protected from being exposed as a Trichosanthes Palmata, if BJD is to stay in power.

So the motive hidden behind Pinaki’s attempt to grease the journalists’ palm with accompanying tricks to bring that to public, was to create a situation for depletion of credibility of scribes whose alert eyes are now focused on Naveen.

Tricks can’t save

Naveen is sure, all the tricks he has contrived to mislead the people by christening all welfare projects of the State by his father’s name would fail; and he would be kicked out of office by the people, if the current trend of exposure by the Press continues.

Therefore, when several BJD members of Assembly and Parliament are in jail under judicial custody consequent upon exposure of scams, and possibility of exposure of his own involvement as the real operator of various scams through frontmen is gaining vigor, and media is digging out how he has acted a comprador of mine-grabbers like Jindal, and people have started suspecting him over the scams as a result of Press activism; the attractive Trichosanthes Palmata red-ball is at the verge of getting ripped off, attempts were made through Pinaki to show the people that the Press Reporters cannot be relied upon, because they are susceptible to external influence guided by bribes or gifts, howsoever small be the volume and the value.

Surly Editorial in Sanchar

The design to denigrate the Press, so that the people won’t be inclined to believe in what the journalists report, is spelt out in editorial of Sanchar, the paper of BJD heavyweight Damodar Raut, dated November 14, 2014, where attempts have been made to make out why the journalists are gainable by bribes or gifts and not reliable.

Sanchar has a marked nuisance value. When it was a periodical, Raut had got back his ministership by blackmailing Naveen Patnaik in a banner therein that read – “Belgium Glass ru Parada Khasuchhi” (Mercury is falling from the Belgium Glass). And, as Raut is now functioning as a minister, the daily avatar of the same Sanchar has, in the editorial cited supra, has aspersed the journalists, because of whose watchful eyes, it is difficult for Naveen to escape.

The evil and opportunistic design of Sanchar is bare, when, while shedding meretricious tears on plight of the journalists in the regime of Naveen Patnaik, the crabby editorial says that, most of the newspapers are not paying the journalists their due salary and therefore, they have no other way than depending on payola for giving publicity to whosoever wants. Knows as he of this, Pinaki had arranged cash gifts for them in both his press conferences at Puri and Bhubaneswar. The Puri scribes protested; but media persons of Bhubaneswar took the money with pleasure, the editorial has said. The entire editorial, captioned “Sambadikanka Swabhiman” is a shrewd attempt to destroy the public image of the scribes, so that whatever they report on economic offenses sic passim the State administration shall not be taken seriously. Thus, the Sanchar of minister Damodar Raut has tried to provide necessary support to the mischief of the ruling party executed through Pinaki Mishra.

Obviously the putrefactive viruses have taken up new masks, such as this editorial and terming the bribe offered to journalists as “gift”.

Acrobatics won’t work

But such wordy acrobatics will not work.

People know, if press persons had ever been guided by avarice, the felonious activities of political leaders and top brasses of administration that are exposed and on exposure of which governments have gone out of power time and again, and judicial inquiries have brought out hidden offenses of the rogues that rule, and leaders have been incarcerated, and plutocratic governments have been forced to allocate funds for welfare of the wretchedly poor, could never have been possible in India.

And the offenders know, the power they are misusing can never last for ever.

Money to media has failed at Puri, and will fail everywhere despite Sanchars and Arnab Goswamies.

As conscience cannot be wiped out, so also Press cannot be suppressed through money and innuendoes.

People should not be fleeced for the chit fund depositors

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

When a government creates a corpus fund for a specific purpose, the money deposited in the said fund does not come from the pocket of the head of that government. It comes from the State Exchequer.

Chit Fund operators in Orissa have allegedly cheated several lakhs of people, touted to be of 40 lakhs families whose monetary loss is claimed to be of the tune of Rs. 60,000 crores, though in this “scam”, the exact number of duped depositors and the money involved has not yet been authentically determined.

There is reason to suspect that many high-positioned persons including politicians, bureaucrats and judges were operating the chit funds through their frontmen, which, otherwise, could not have become so monstrous.

As the so-called duped depositors started filing FIRs against the cheating and the police smelled the enormity of the offense, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik attempted to lessen the wrath of the depositors by pronouncing a corpus fund for payment of their dues, just in order to keep the climate congenial to his interest in election.

The declaration of the Chief Minister, basically a stunt as it was to keep the so-called duped depositors somewhat assuaged before election-2014, the proposed corpus fund has not yet materialized. The budget placed before the Assembly is entirely silent on this score.

When media has no ethical role in cultivating funds for payment to chit fund depositors, it is intriguing that, media-mega-power Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, leading a delegation of the allegedly duped depositors has submitted a memorandum to Finance Minister P. K. Amat demanding formation of the corpus fund without delay and refund of deposits to the affected depositors.

As a sentinel of Orissa’s interest, we strongly oppose the proposal to create a corpus fund to refund the money deposited in the chit funds by the so-called duped depositors.

There are branches of nationalized banks and official organs all over Orissa that offer many saving schemes with assured interest. The so-called duped depositors could not have been duped had they preferred their deposits in such saving schemes. Their avarice led them into the trap of chit funds and deposit of their money in chit funds was an offense against the State inasmuch as the deposit in chit funds denied flow of funds to the State coffers.

Notwithstanding the size of deposits in chit funds, every such deposit was contributive to black money. And the same cannot be encouraged by the State with assured refund of their money avariciously stashed in black money coffers.

Depositing in chit funds was not made with State approval and hence, State should have no financial liability in misappropriation of the said deposits by the chit fund operators.

The State has only one role to play in this matter. That is, investigation into allegation of cheating and prosecution against the chit fund operators if the allegations are prima facie convincing. Beyond this, the State must not take any step.

The chit fund depositors must be held as willful allies of black money syndicate and for their benefit, the people of Orissa must not be fleeced by the Chief Minister through his proposed corpus fund as every pie to be used in that fund would come from the money of the tax-payers.

Left, the Last Hope, shouldn’t be Lost: India’s interest instead of Singh’s, is Essential

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

What the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is doing after his office and the department under his control got exposed in the coal block scam by the Country’s highest Constitutional Authority on audit and accounts, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India?

He himself has been trying and encouraging his cabinet colleagues to damage the credibility of this Constitutional Authority, the CAG.

Such a disservice to the nation from the highest political authority is not found in any democracy.

The parties that practice economy of inequality like the BJP do not look at this intricate offense against India; because, besides being allies of the Congress in plutocracy, their role during the reign of Vajpayee was also averse to the primordial role of CAG in ensuring financial discipline a government is needed to adhere to.

But, the left parties in India too, are conspicuous by their silence over the biting reality that the Prime Minister’s attempt to denigrate the CAG is the most harmful assault on the very structure on which India’s Parliamentary Democracy stands.

Economy being the essence of the country’s life and the basis of all its activities, denigration of CAG by the Prime Minister would precipitate ruin of the credibility of the specific and the only instrument created by the founders of independent India to provide the Parliament with the necessary feedback to make the government answerable and to draw up direction of administration. So, more than the massive scam, the monstrosity of Prime Minister Singh’s attack on CAG deserves serious remedial measures.

The only remedy to this serious syndrome lies in removal of Dr. Singh from the Prime Minister post. The BJP is absolutely right in demanding his resignation as a prerequisite to discussion over the issue in Parliament. Otherwise, it would help Dr. Singh to escape by throwing further confusing tirades against the CAG, notwithstanding how harmful that would be to the economic management of the country.

In this critical juncture, instead of acting a go-between, the left should stand with the BJP in demands for Singh’s resignation. The rank opportunism of the smaller parties that have no adherence to any political economy and no track record of political probity, are susceptible to money-bag influence as has often been observed. Hence a great responsibility lies on the Left to help India get rid of the compradors and, in this respect, their plea for hearing the PM on the issue is of no real utility. If they are serious, they should strengthen the demand for Dr. Singh’s resignation. Dr. Singh’s leader Sonia Gandhi, who is on records to have asked her followers to “attack” the Opposition, must not be allowed to derail democracy by such tricks of browbeating. And, unless the Left becomes one with the BJP in refusing to be browbeaten, the country would suffer an injury that can hardly be tackled instantly.

It pains us recalling that the left’s alliance with Dr. Singh in the preceding Parliament had ushered in the era of India’s subjugation to USA hegemony, specifically in the matter of the nuke deal with that country. The gateway to a “bonanza” to US nuke traders, the Hyde Act was “signed, sealed” and made “irrevocable” by Dr. Singh behind back of the Parliament even though for signing the agreement, the prerequisite was that “the Indian Parliament must agree to the text” of the Hyde Act. The “text” of the Hyde act was not placed before the Parliament and the Left, despite vociferous protests against signing the nuke deal, had never made the point that the Parliament “must agree” or “disagree” to the “text” of the said Act. It had neither wanted the speaker to make the Parliament discuss the “text” of the Hyde Act in order to “agree” or “disagree” to the “text” thereof nor had it terminated its alliance with the Congress on the ground of treachery against the country. It continued its alliance with Dr. Singh, till, smaller fishes, sans any political ideology, were netted in to stand with him in his seeking of confidence in nuke deal context. Such acrobatics are of no gain for the country and it would be wrong again for the left to fall into the trap of debates on the coal scam before Dr. Singh, who has denigrating the CAG for the exposure of the scams in his report, resigns to ensure that through the debate, the Parliament does not become a platform of abuse of the apex auditor.

We have also the experience of how BJP acts in connivance with the Congress when thereby the underworld is sure to benefit. Jaswant Singh’s withdrawal of his motion on collapse of the terror funding bank BCCI is an instance. So, there is no reason for us to believe that the BJP is sincere in its demands for resignation of Dr. Singh.

But to us, resignation of Dr. Singh is the only way to ensure an appropriate appraisal of the CAG report.

When the country has been transformed into a plutocracy by the compradors in nexus with non-communists, the Left is the last hope for our people for revival of democracy and it should not make it the lost hope.

Hence, it is now the Left’s responsibility to strengthen every voice that demands for Dr. Singh’s resignation without bothering about from beneath which flag that voice emanates. Otherwise, it will fail in its duty to our innocent people that are uninformed, less informed, misinformed.