The Assembly Imbroglio: Loser is the Chief Minister

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Despite fabulous majority – 117 members in a 147 seater Assembly – Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik looks like a pathetic loser, as a mere 30 member strong multi-party Opposition has put him on the mat where he does not dare to open his mouth.

At the crux of this imbroglio lies the chit fund felony.

Significantly, the Opposition is not holding the Cabinet, as a whole, responsible for this, whereas it has unambiguously pointed out at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who seems to have acted God Father to at least one of the crooks – Prasant Dash of SeaShore.

It should have been proper for Naveen to explain his position; because he is not an individual alone, but a Chief Minister.

It is not becoming of a Chief Minister to use silence as the best method of defense.

On the 14th day of its commencement, Orissa Assembly collapsed again to adjournment till 3 PM today after less than a minute of beginning of the Question Hour.

At par with our views, the daily Sanchar, founded and guided by the most astute member of Naveen’s cabinet Dr. Damodar Raut, also has opined that, the Chief Minister shouldn’t shy at the Opposition in the chit fund matter and rather should put forth with honesty the details of the scam as has come out in course of investigation, so that denigration of the image of the Government in the eyes of the people may stop.

But, instead of correcting himself, the Chief Minister has taken refuge in the ruling of the Speaker that the chit fund matter being sub judice, cannot be subjected to debates of the House.

This plea is abysmally poor.

From what the Opposition is stressing upon, it is clear that, it wants accounts of the Chief Minister on his suspected link with chit fund crooks. The Chief Minister’s link with chit fund crooks is never before any court of law. So, it is not acceptable that the matter is sub judice. It would fit better to legislative magnanimity if the Speaker recalls his ruling and allows debates on chit fund felony without any prejudice to matters before the court. Assembly secretariat should be used to apprise the members of what exactly is su judice. Beyond that, free debate on chit fund should be allowed.

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Swain Returns to Assembly // NOW THE QUESTION IS: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THE PERIOD UNDER NULLIFICATION?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Ranendra Pratap Swain, victim of BJD’s internecine leg-pulling in 2009 elections to Orissa Assembly won the re-election at Athgarh, which he could have also won at that time had his party not sabotaged him, using the Returning Officer in illegal rejection of his nomination papers.

BJD had spent, according to a source in that party, about a crore of Rupees against Swain in litigations up to the Supreme Court by engaging, off the records, costliest lawyers of the country in defense of Swain’s rival, Ramesh Raut.

Raut was working like a pageboy in BJD office before being clandestinely readied to file nomination papers against Swain, that had made him de facto candidate of that party after success of the scheme to keep Swain out of fray.

Where from he got the massive amount of money to defray the costliest lawyers’ charges? Possibilities are two: (1) the BJD that had coined the scheme to block Swain’s re-entry into the Assembly for reasons discussed earlier in these pages, had borne Raut’s litigation cost. (2) after being elected to the Assembly, Raut had amassed such massive amount of money that he had no difficulty in defraying the huge cost of litigation.

When there are peons and night watchmen that have become multimillionaires by exploiting the climate of corruption the Naveen Patnaik’s government has created in Orissa, it cannot be said that it was not possible for Raut to amass huge money after being a MLA in the same climate .

But which of the above two possibilities is the reality can be ascertained if official agencies detecting tax evasion are asked to investigate into Raut’s litigation cost.

Swain’s return that has exposed the foul play BJD had played at Athgarh craves investigations into the financial foul play enacted in the intervening period, which is yet kept shrouded under mystery as yet, though it smacks of secret income and tax evasion.

But as far as Orissa Assembly is concerned, the question that Swain’s return has raised is unique and urgent.

The Orissa High Court had stripped layer by layer the illegalities resorted to in rejection of Swain’s nomination papers and declared the election in Athgarh null and void. Raut had challenged the HC verdict in the Supreme Court, but failed. So, legally, election of 2009 in Athgarh was no election.

In view of this, Raut’s participation, if any, in the Assembly must stand obliterated with retrospective effect. Had the Court order does not allow Raut to have any life as a member of the Assembly as his election is declared null and void.

So, now, it is the minimum duty of the Speaker to delete from Assembly records the participation of Raut in its entirety. When he is legally not a member since the day of his election, his oath as a member of the House must also be deleted. Therefore, all the salaries and perquisites he has received as MLA must be must be calculated in terms of money and recovered from him with retrospective effect. The Assembly accounts section should immediately be asked to complete this calculation and communicate the the same to him demanding recovery thereof. If the Speaker prefers to waive such dues, he can do so maximum up to the day of the High Court order. The HC order had unseated him with retrospective effect. Had he resigned immediately, the salaries and other benefits he had drawn might have seemed justifies, as, on the strength of the election, he had participated in the Assembly businesses till that day. But by not resigning from membership and going instead to the Supreme Court, he had continue as a member subject to decision of the Supreme Court and drawn the salaries and perquisites commutable in terms of money at his own risk. So, from the day of the High Court order till the day of his termination, whatever he has received materially from the Assembly was undue receipt. The Speaker has no prerogative to waive the dues he has received unduly by pursuing the luxury of litigation in the Supreme Court.

So, besides deletion of every participation of Raut from the Assembly records, it is incumbent upon the Speaker to recover from Raut the money he has unduly drawn from the House and to declare Swain as the representative of the Assembly with retrospective effect from the 2009 elections, activating his membership only from the day of his oath taking for financial purpose.

Anything else would create wrong precedences in handling the period of nullification as the election of 2009 in Athgarh has been declared unchangeably null and void.

Democracy in Danger; We Must Change the Law for Election of the Speaker

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Makers of Indian Constitution were individually and collectively proud of their concern for the country and were eager to finalize the Constitution for expediting emergence of Indian Republic. This eagerness made them make such mistakes that now expedites the ruin of the Republic.

That, Indian Republic is in ruins does not need any proof, because we all have seen how the entire winter session of the Parliament collapsed as the Prime Minister of the tainted government did not agree with Opposition demand for constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate into the 2G Spectrum scam.

It was natural on part of Dr. Manmohan Singh not to agree for a JPC.

He has the experience of how injurious could be a JPC to his position.

In 1992, he had tendered his resignation after being held guilty by the JPC constituted to probe into the securities scam that owed its origin to his role as the Finance Minister of India. Many a Congress members of the Parliament had put tremendous pressure on everybody that mattered for removal of the adverse comment of the JPC on Dr. Singh; but the JPC did not buzz. He had to resign and he resigned from the post of the Finance Minister. If Prime Minister Narasingh Rao were not under the spell of Chandraswamy, his bed of tryst with the USA, Singh’s resignation should certainly been accepted and the country could surely been saved from the pernicious grip of the traitors that have transformed our democracy to plutocracy.

So, Manmohan Singh is bound to be afraid of JPC.

And, therefore, his government is not supposed to welcome the proposal for formation of JPC.

But was the consent of the government necessary for formation of the JPC? No. It was not at all necessary.

The Speaker should have constituted a JPC to probe into the spectrum scam and any or all other such financial loot that has occurred during Singh’s regime or even from the day the country has been subjected to globalization. But the Speaker did not appoint a JPC. This resulted in collapse of the entire session.

The year 2010 has progressed into 2011. But India will never progress into democracy again if the provision for election of the Speaker is not changed. As mentioned above, makers of our constitution, in absolute haste to expedite establishment of the Republic, have made many wrong provisions that have damaged our democracy. Article 93 as well as Article 178 are two such wrong provisions. both of these Articles are identical. They provide for election of the Speaker from amongst the members of the Houses. This provision equips the ruling party or ruling coalition to elect a person from its/their side as the Speaker and once elected, the power that position bestows upon the person is so alluring that it is not surprising if a Speaker sides with the government. If the role of Chatterjee in nuke deal matter in the last Loksabha could be cited as an instance, non-formation of JPC over the spectrum scam by the Speaker of the present Loksabha may not be any different.

Hence it is urgent that the Speaker should be a non-political person and should be directly elected by the people under direct supervision of the election commission. There must be a blatant ban on political parties taking any interest in the Speaker’s election. This is essential for health of Indian Parliament.

Otherwise, as Dr. Ambedkar had portended, Indian sovereignty would crumble down due to commission agents taking over as Prime Ministers and birds of their feathers in both the sides of the Houses creating environment of continuous adjournments and collapse of their businesses.

ORISSA OPPOSITION TAKES A TOLL; REVENUE MINISTER RESIGNS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Opposition has taken a toll of many a Ministers of Navin Patnaik’s Government, the latest being Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal. Orissa has been saved from the agonizing embarrassment over the Minister’s alleged sex escapades exposed last month.

Samal’s party BJP lost its face in protecting him. But to repair the loss, after Samal resigned, its members today organized a demonstration at Orissa’s spiritual capital Puri in protest against the black spot the Minister painted on the saffron and in a bid to show that all saffronists are not sex maniacs, burnt down the effigy of Samal with utmost contempt that they could have displayed.

The current phase of incumbency of Navin Patnaik is so much soiled with scandals that succumbing to Opposition pressure he has witnessed 11 of his cabinet colleagues quit their berths, nine of his own party BJD and two of his coalition partner BJP. They are M/s Balabhadra Majhi, Bijayashree Rautray, Bishnu Das, Damodar Raut, Debashish Nayak, Kalandi Behera, Nagendra Pradhan, Rabi Nanda and Ms. Pramila Mallik (all BJD) and Mr. Manmohan samal and mr.Pradipta Nayak (both BJP). Ms. Pramila Mallik and Mr. Pradipta Nayak have been reinducted in different circumstances.

Over and above these members of his cabinet, the BJD stalwart Maheswar Mohanty had to quit the Speaker post under Opposition pressure.

When Rabi Nanda had to go as his bid to purchase legislators’ silence over excise malpractice was exposed on records by Congress member Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, the Chief Minister’s blue-eyed boy Debashish Nayak , BJP’s Manmohan Samal and Speaker Maheswar Mohanty had to quit under charges of sex escapades.

No Ministry in Orissa so far was so infested with so many scandals.

SOMANATH CHATTERJEE: INDIVIDUAL VERSUS COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Loksabha Speaker Somanath Chatterjee has again said that in rejecting party line in the nuke deal with USA issue, he has acted in accordance with his conscience.

Everybody acts according to his or her conscience. Even a criminal acts according to dictates of his/her conscience and never finds any fault therein until censored by collective conscience of the society.

Individual conscience is questionable. Politicians know this better than any. Therefore they organize themselves into political parties based on collective wisdom of individual members of their respective classes, lest personally they may fail to act properly.

In critical conditions individuals tend to act as they like, often improperly, behind the curtain of their personal conscience. This adversely affects the common purpose.

In a political party free pursuit of personal conscience culminating in improper acts creates anarchy. Hence collective conscience whips the individual and in the floor of the Parliament or Assembly this whip is known as Party Whip, which, if dishonored, leads to termination of membership of the person concerned from the concerned House.

Speaker Somanath Chatterjee, honored as India’s best Parliamentarian after Indrajit Gupta of CPI, knows this and hence he knows that in Parliamentary party politics individual conscience is not allowed to dishonor the collective conscience of the party one belongs to.

Hence it is sad that he is harping on importance of his individual conscience vis-à-vis the collective conscience of CPM that had put him in the Speaker’s chair.

Communists had contributed their might of so many decades long organizational excellence to make him shine as the speaker of Indian Loksabha; but after becoming the speaker, he took so little a time to shun the communists.

Power. How baffling are its manners!

However, from this the communists should learn a lesion. Any alliance with class enemies leads only to loss of class commitment and weakens the struggle of the proletariat.

Communists everywhere, irrespective of the attire they ware, must appreciate that no sentinel of the working class should be allowed to act according to individual conscience to the detriment of collective conscience formulated by the collective leadership of the party they belong to.

Individual conscience militating against collective conscience is questionable conscience and is blatantly harmful to harmony amongst the peoples who dedicate themselves to the cause of the proletariat with a common commitment.

There should be no doubt over the basic truth that war against class enemies cannot be won by tolerating individual assertions against collective wisdom in an army of the working class, anywhere anytime.

So this can be safely said that the CPM has done the best thing by dismissing Chatterjee from the party, obviously holding his individual conscience as a questionable conscience.

IN INTEREST OF DEMOCRACY MAHESWAR BE MADE THE SPEAKER AGAIN

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa State Human Rights Commission has concluded that Sri Maheswar Mohanty as Speaker of Orissa Lagislative Assembly had in no way violated the human rights of Lady Marshal Ms. Gayatri Panda, whose allegations of sexual harassment against the Speaker had, on reference, been the subject matter of its investigation.

Democratic prudence requires that Sri Mohanty, who had relinquished his chair for paving way for a fair investigation be with all dignity restored as the Speaker.

Ms. Panda was marked for repeated abandonment of her services at her sweet will and therefore Sri Mohanty as the Speaker had ordered for disciplinary proceedings against her.

When she raised allegation of sexual harassment against Sri Mohanty, in these pages I had stressed on subjecting her to polygraph test as the minimum prerequisite to proceed in the matter on two grounds: one, she raised the allegation after being charged for serious dereliction in duty, which, therefore, looked like motivated and two, she was not stable in her statements.

But the Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, as is his wont, ignored our correct advice and encouraged Ms. Panda’s allegations gain ground. The Speaker, who on publication of Ms. Panda’s allegation in local media had instantly withdrawn from presiding over the Assembly till the truth come out by way of a house committee investigation, later relinquished his office voluntarily so that investigating machineries may proceed without any hesitation.

Now the Human Rights Commission has pronounced its findings that Ms. Panda has totally failed to substantiate her allegations. But, the investigation by Police is still pending.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is the Home Minister of the state. He should ask the police to conclude their investigation immediately or as leader of the House, should take steps to restore Sri Mohanty as the speaker immediately and much ahead of the Monsoon session of the Assembly.

The Speaker of the House should never be allowed to be a victim of any motivated conspiracy as has happened in the instant case.

DEMOCRACY CANNOT THRIVE ON MOBOCRACY! QUIT NAVIN, QUIT

Let Biswabhusan of BJP lead the coalition in greater interest of Orissa.

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Assembly, in the midst of budget session has broken down. It could not conduct its business today. It was not a case of stonewalling; it was a case of continuous abandonment of the Chair by the Speaker. Never before the Assembly had experienced such a self-killing melancholy.

It is a shame that the Chief Minister has failed so measurably in leading the State that his own party MLAs have pushed the rampart of democracy into the fold of mobocracy in the matter of a lady marshal versus the Speaker.

We have suggested that the lady marshal should be first subjected to a polygraph test in order to scientifically determine as to whether she is telling the truth in raising allegation of sexual harassment against the Speaker; specifically as she has raised this allegation while facing charges for repeated dereliction in duty. If she is found to have told the truth, the ruling coalition should ask the Speaker to step down pending penal action. This being a case of honor of a lady and honor of a democracy, prompt medico-legal action for determination of the truth is seriously needed. But the Chief Minister is too confused and deficient in political acumen to proceed in right direction.

It is shocking that the CM has declared to take action against the Speaker if he would be found guilty in an inquiry to be conducted. Subjecting a Speaker to investigations by a Police team or a House Committee or a Probe Commission is detrimental to the dignity of the highly esteem office he holds. Even if the investigation remains impartial, the Speaker would continue to be looked at askance in case he gets a clean chit and that would be more harmful for democracy. So, in such instances, where a delinquent lady raises allegation of sexual harassment against the person under whose orders she has been subjected to disciplinary proceedings, the lady must be tested first with a lie dictator in order to know if she is not playing tricks to frame up the disciplinary authority and to derail the proceedings. Otherwise, in no office where women work, discipline can be maintained. If polygraph test indicates that the lady is not telling a lie, political functionaries like the Speaker must forthwith be sacked by way of political action and then, the Government can proceed to prosecute him for the crime. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has failed to understand this point.

His reluctance to proceed promptly and diligently has encouraged publicity mongers and chaosists to rule the roost. House has collapsed before passing of the budget. As the leader of the House it was his duty and responsibility to convince the Opposition on the correctness of action he is taking; but instead, he has used confrontational stances.

The Opposition under its politically more astute leaders had taken steps today to ensure that the chair abandoned by the Speaker remains free of occupation by others. Technically they were right as the Speaker, while abandoning his chair, had not expressed from his podium any authorization to any other member including the Deputy Speaker to chair the House. So, the business of the day could not commence and the session collapsed. It could have resumed only if the Speaker would have returned to his chair. But in the afternoon, a member of the presidium, encircled by women members of the ruling coalition, tried to force-occupy the Speaker’s chair sans authority and precipitated a free-for-all situation wherein, according to the women members, modesty was the casualty.

It became clear that instead of protecting democracy, the government wants protection under mobocracy.

Such ruin had never visited Orissa.

The Chief Minister should admit that it would have been better had he more experience in politics. The ruling coalition should admit this too and change the leadership. The State is in a crisis. To overcome the crisis, the ruling coalition should search for a more experienced member from its within in order to replace Navin. If I could have any role to play politically, I would have suggested that Biswabhusan Harichandan of BJP should replace Navin. The BJP strongman is not known of any specific corruption, He is more experienced in politics and is an accomplished expert in Law and more importantly, he is regarded as a strongman of Oriya nationality. The BJD should admit that though Biju sycophants are in abundance in its fold, there is none amongst its members to be chosen as a Chief Minister. Therefore, in order to save Orissa from the ongoing and ever increasing political turmoil, it should prevail upon Navin to invite the BJP stalwart to head a collective leadership.

If BJD adjusts it ego, the State may be saved.

It seems legally sound that the Assembly needs to be called afresh by the Governor to pass the budget. But by then Navin should not be in the CM chair to further mar its march under confusion.