Sunday, May 31, 2009
Bhawanipatna: The driver of the Sub-Divisional Police Officer’s jeep that had killed a person and injured another here on Friday night was produced in court on Saturday. Gajendra Naik (22) of Nakrundi village of the Thuamul-Rampur and Sarthak Naik Duarsani GP here were on their way back to the villages when their motorbike collided with the police jeep. While Gajendra died on way to the hospital, Sarthak suffered a broken leg. Gajendra’s body was sent to his village after postmortem. Kalahandi SP Manmohan Das told The Pioneer that the kin of the deceased were given Rs 10,000 from the Red Cross fund.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar
The lack of bauxite and threat of rising pollution level has forced the State Government to put on hold expansions of the mega projects including the expansion of refineries.
Though it allowed the expansion of mega projects but it has been cleared with a few riders in it. Similarly, no cement projects relating to limestone would be allowed through out the State except in Malkangiri. A decision to this effect was taken at the State-Level Single Window Clearance Committee (SLCWC) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy on Friday.
Talking to reporters, MD IPICOL Ashok Meena said it would allow the expansion of the Hindalco’s alumina refinery and captive power plant. But their expansion would be reduced this time and would in a large scale. Its entire proposal was not accepted at this point, he added.
Similarly, Tata Sponge’s proposal was accepted with a reduced format. It was allowed to expands its plant by .45 million tonne. Vedanta’ Alumina Ltd’s proposal to enhance its alumina refinery plant from 1 mt to 6 million tonne was not also accepted. It was asked to enhance its production capacity by only .6 million tonne. The expansion relating to the smelter plant was given the green signal but with a reduced strength. All other proposals of companies like Rashmi Mettalick, Rungta Mines, Shyam Steel Ltd, Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd, Visa Baw Ltd, Lnaco Bhawan Power Ltd and Toshali Cement’s proposal was accepted but with some riders. It also accepted the Orissa Thermal Power’s proposed 2000 mw capacity power plant.
But all of them asked to reduce their expansion and go slowly. “We will asses the reserve of bauxite first and then allow them to go their expansions in a full phase. Similarly, except in Malkangiri, there is no much stock of limestone. At this point, we will not clear cement projects,” he said.
Bhubaneswar: A Vigilance case was registered against Chittaranjan Padhi, Panchayat Extension Officer, Kaudola Grama Panchayat and In-Charge of Panchayat Extension Officer, Ampani GP under Kokasara block in Kalahandi district, for demanding gratification of Rs 1,000 from Jagadish Khamari of village Ampani under Koksara PS in Kalahandi district to hand over work order in favour of Khamari for construction of Indira Awas House. A trap was laid on Friday on the premises of the Panchayat Extension Office, Kaudola and Padhi was caught red-handed accepting bribe. The bribe money was recovered from his pant pocket. Padhi was then arrested.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I appreciate Kapil Sibal as Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Kamal Nath as Union Minister of Highway & Surface Transport.
Both these ministries, Ministry Human Resource Development and Ministry of Highway & Surface Transport, were occupied by people who were thinking these ministries as their respective personal properties rather than that of the whole nation in the previous UPA Government.
Kapil Sibal and Kamal Nath are two personalities in the Government, personally I think, can rise above state lobby and make a fair deal for all the regions/states in the nation.
I wish Prime Minister could have done similar thing for Ministry of Railway. For Mamata Benerjee, Railway is a state property of West Bengal. Earlier she had delibartely neglected interest of Orissa during NDA Government. Mamata Banerjee and Lalu Yadav were among those ministers who work only for their respective state's interest rather than for the whole nation.
I hope Mamata Benerjee wins West Bengal state election in a year, so that Dr Monmohan Singh do not need to follow rule of poltical-compulsion, and replace unin ministry of Railway with another personality like Kamal Nath or Kapil Sibal.
Basic Rule: Ministries related to infrastructure and education should not be given to regional parties, as they may misuse in favor for their state by neglecting requirements other states. An example, railway minstry has been neglecting Orissa's KBK region and Chhattisgarh since independence, where has Bihar and West Bengal have contineously received the most favored deal by Indian Railway.
Challenges, Possibilities and Opportunities for Bhakta Charan Das in various Ministries under Central Government
Being an able leader, Bhakta Charan Das, has got high expectations from people of Kalahandi which is also reflected from the huge margin of vote he received in this election.
We are very much disappointed with the Congress Party and Prime Minister Dr Singh for not giving him a ministerial berth in the union cabinet as he proved his leadership skill as working president of Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee for western Orissa by winning 4 out of 5 MP seats. However, here there are some oppertunities for able leader like Bhakta Charan Das who can help development of Orissa, in particular, Kalahandi region. We sincerely hope he takes these issues to the concern ministries to fulfill all the objectives.
Mamata Benerjee, Union Minister of Railways
Approval of Kantabanji – Khariar – Dharamgarh – Ampani – Nabarangpur – Jeypur line: A serious demand in Kalahandi, Nuapada and Nabarangpur region, which has sent ruling congress MPs to the center
Early completion of Lanjigarh road – Jungarh railway line (Mr. Das's dream project)
Establishing a Railway Factory in Kalahandi: a serious demand in Kalahandi
Kamal Nath, Union Minister Surface Transport and Highways
Kamal Nath seems to be an old friend of Orissa Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik and both seems to be in good relation privately.
Widening and Improving NH210 & NH217 passing through Kalahandi
Approving and construction of a high lying bridge over Hati river near Junagarh: A serious demand of Kalahandi since a decade
Approval of major roads such as:
Nuapada – Patalganga – Boden - Nilji - Sinapalli – Golamunda – Brundabahal
Bongomunda - Kegaon – Dhamamgarh- Moter – Jaipatna – Mukhiguda - Raniguda
Possibility of National Highway
Bongomunda to Koraput via Kegaon, Dharamgarh, Moter, Jaipatna, Mukhiguda and Raniguda as a National Highway
Khariar to Bhanjanagar via Bhawanipatna, Lanjigarh road, Simanbadi, Daringbadi as National Highway
Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development
Establishing Branch of Central University of Orissa for faculty of Medicine, Science and Engineering in Bhawanipatna: This is a long standing demand in Kalahandi since 1988, Mr Das is aware of this fact.
Establishing Kalahandi Institute of Science & Technology in the line of Ghanikant Choudhury Institute of Science & Technology in West Bengal
A Central Govt. sponsored Polytechnique College in Dharmagarh
Working with UGC to start Post Graduate Courses in Science and Computer Science & Application in Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union minister Health:Ghulam Nabi Azad is a close associate of Orissa Congress and Bhakta Babu was in contact with him.
Central Government sponsored Medical College in Kalahandi (for KBK region) similar to one in North Eastern states
S. Jaipal Reddy, Minister of Urban Development:
Including Bhawanipatna in national urban development plan
Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of Power:
A thermal power plant in Kalahandi (possibility in Jungarh or Kesinga region where water & free non-agricultural or forest land is available)
Dayanishi Maran, Union minister of Textiles:
Kalahandi is one of the largest producers of cotton in Orissa, neighboring Rayagada, Balangir and other Orissa districts also produce cotton in a large extent. In this region Bhawanipatna is ideally located in equidistance from Rayagada and Balangir and can be a center for cotton processing unit in South-Western Orissa. A central Government funded Textile Park and cotton processing unit in Bhawanipatna will boost the local farmers in the whole region.
Meira Kumar, Union minister of Water Resources:
Extension of upper Indravati irrigation project to all regions of Koksara and Golamunda blocks
Other possible irrigation projects in Thuamul Rampur, Lanjigarh, Naral, Madanpur Rampur, Karlamunda, Nuapada, Kairar, Komna, Sinapalli and Kesinga blocks
Subodh Kant Sahay , Union minister of Food Processing:
I vaguely remember Subodh Kant Sahay had visited Kalahandi along with Bhakta babu in early 1990s when both of them were ministers in Chandra Sekha Government .
A food processing park could be established in Kalahandi as Kalahandi is emerging as large producer of rice, cotton and pulses.
Kantilal Bhuria, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs:
A Tribal College can be established in Kalahandi
Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers:
Since Mr Das has good relation with Srikant Jena, minister of state from Orissa, he could talk with him to establish a Phamaceutical College in Kalahandi under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
The Prime Minister of India, Dr Singh
Smt Sonia Gandhi and Congress Leaders,
Dear Prime Minister Dr. Singh,
As in last five years we have not realized a single instance where you have offered any things to Orissa unless people of Orissa fight for it. It is also true that Orissa people did not vote overwhelmingly to Congress party in this election as you never wanted them to vote for you.
Here is the summary of your ignorance towards Orissa.
(1) When you became the PM of India in 2004 one of the first things your government did was shift an announced for National Institute of Sciences (NIS) in Bhubaneswar to Kolkata. It took Orissa-wide demonstrations and a supreme court case for you to make amends and declare the establishment of a National Institute of Science Education and Research in Bhubaneswar.
(2) When Orissa MPs discussed with you about Orissa' development you reported to have replied "Money does not grows in trees."
(3) In 2004 you humiliated Orissa by not giving a single minister from Orissa though Orissa elected 2 MPs from Orissa (when NDA Govt was in power despite there were no MP Kerala was under consideration for a ministry). Eventually to avoid much pressure and demand you added a minister of state from Orissa after around 3 years.
(4) Your HRD minister of state had mentioned in a speech in Patna that there will be an IIT in Orissa, but subsequently Orissa was not in the list. Again, after a lot of protests and demonstrations in Orissa, you included Orissa as one of the locations of a new IIT in the second round.
(5) Your Government has completely ignorned railway need in KBK region and a railway factory there.
(6) And finally now, Congress gets 6 Lok Sabha MPs from Orissa, 4 more than what it had in 2004 but you failed to give them proper representation in your cabinet. At least 3 of the elected MPs such as Hemanda Biswal, Srikan Jena and Bhakta Charan Das from Orissa are deserving and experince candidate to become a cabinet minister. More over in Western Orissa your party won 5 out of 6 MPs in Orissa, but not a single MP was made a minister.
Rather you and your party leadership are arguing saying it was based on talent.
Sir, do you mean that Oriya people do not have talent? Bhakta Das or Hemanada Biswal is inferior to any other x, y or z in your ministry, those come from Soniaji & Rahulji's political coterie !!!
Leaders like Bhakta Das, a former state minister with independent charge, has won with huge margin in Orissa and also helped winning congress candidates in many MLA seats where oppostion party was very strong. He was also a minister of state with independent Charge for railway.
Similalrly, Mr Jena was a fromer cabinet minister for parliment affairs and tourism, and despite having BJD wave in whole costal distircts he won in Balasore.
Hemananda Biswal has at least won 6 times to state assembly and was Chief Minister of Orissa in more than two ocassions.
Sir, do you want to give a message that ministers and chief ministers from Orissa do not have talent unlike those in Karnataka, Maharastra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal etc?
You are being also an academician, more experinced as well as wise than me, I leave the judgement to you, however, I can only conclude that, knowingly or unknowingly, you have been neglecting Orissa most during your prime ministership unlike any other prime minister.
I do not know whether I should rather thank you for this humiliation.
BHUBANESWAR: Ironic as it may appear, but Congress leader Srikant Jena's induction into the Manmohan Singh ministry on Thursday provided BJD with
fresh ammunition to raise the Central neglect bogey.
"Successive Congress governments at the Centre have badly neglected Orissa's proper representation in the Centre," chief minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik said shortly after Jena, the Balasore MP, was sworn in by President Pratibha Patel.
Losing little time to nail down the opposition Congress, Naveen observed that expansion of the Union ministry reflected the Congress' "attitude" towards Orissa, which should have got more representation.
His observation in a way gave vent to the public mood in the state, in the wake of Tamil Nadu (nine), West Bengal (eight), Madhya Pradesh (four) and Bihar (three) getting good representation in the Union government. Even smaller states like Himachal Pradesh (two), Meghalaya (two) have done better than Orissa, while neighbouring Jharkhand has got a Cabinet berth.
While Naveen, who had made Central neglect an issue in the recently concluded polls, clearly attempted to wrest the political initiative from his rivals by crying foul over only one MP from the state gaining entry into the UPA government, state Congress leaders too were not enthusiastic at Jena's induction as a minister of state.
"It is sad Orissa has not got a cabinet minister. It should have got one because Congress has got six MPs from the state," pointed senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra, who lost unsuccessfully contested for the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat. "We should hope that in future Orissa will get a cabinet minister," he said.
Pertinent to note, when the UPA government came to power in 2004 nobody from Orissa found place in the ministry, but subsequently Chandrasekhar Sahu was taken in as a minister of state.
While Jena has preferred not to publicly express his disappointment at his "demotion" (he was Union Cabinet minister twice before in the 1990s), Congress leaders said the Balasore MP had little choice but to accept whatever was offered to him. Sundargarh MP Hemananda Biswal and Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das, both of whom were contenders for a position in the Manmohan dispensation, welcomed Jena's entry.
"I hope the Congress leadership will consider it in future," remarked Biswal when pointed out that he was the only former CM who had not found a berth in the ministry that included nine ex-CMs.
State BJP chief Suresh Pujari termed Orissa poor representation in the Union ministry as "unfortunate" and said, "Considering that Orissa has a lot of problems adequate representation is required at the Centre to solve those."
13 years ago he outsmarted Biju Patnaik.
He became Union Minister in the H D Devegowda Cabinet in 1996.
So the legendary leader of Orissa failed to make it to the Union Cabinet.
However fate played cruel joke on him after long 13 years and Srikant Jena took over as a mere Minister of State (MOS).
While the newly elected MP from Balasore Lok Sabha was waiting for the telephone call from Man Mohan Singh, his camp was highly optimistic.
All of them were sure that Jena will get a Cabinet berth.
But his hopes were shattered as Jena was informed that he will take over as MOS, not a MOS ( Independent).
Sources said immediately he rushed to Ahmed Patel and what transpired between them is not known to public.
However Jena as the most disciplined Congress man took oath of Office and Secrecy administered by President Pratibha Patil.
Now ask anybody in Orissa, they feel that Congress leadership has once again humiliated Orissa.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi did not find Orissa deserving enough to make anyone from the state as cabinet minister.
This has sent a strongly negative message to the state where the Congress Party in a surprise of surprises got 6 seats in the parliamentary elections.
Out of the 6 elected MPs, Hemananda Biswal, a former Chief Minister and several times a Cabinet Minister in Orissa was expecting for a berth in the Union Ministry.
Biswal, a tribal leader has humiliated 3-time MP and former Union Minister Jual Oram from Sundargarh.
Similarly, Bhakta Charan Das, who not only won from the most backward and poverty stricken Kalahandi, but also defeated 3-time MP of BJP, Bikram Kesari Deo with a thumping margin.
Bhakta also was instrumental in bringing confidence among the Congress candidates fighting in the Assembly polls, for which the Grand Old Party could snatch 4 seats out of 5.
While Congress was shinning under Bhakta’s able leadership in Kalahandi, AICC High Command ignored him.
Amar Pradhan, MP from Sambalpur made the former Youth Congress President Rohit Pujari bite dust.
When Rohit left Congress party in a huff, Rahul Gandhi personally called Amar and asked him to file for Sambalpur as MP candidate.
And with the backing of the AICC General Secretary, Amar won the polls.
So every body in the party hierarchy expected that Amar will be given a MOS seat.
But he also found no luck, thanks to the as usual neglecting attitude of the Congress High Command towards Orissa.
Now the BJD Supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik found ample ground to scoff at the Congress led UPA leadership, who has the habit of neglecting Orissa on various fronts.
And sources said BJD leaders are making jibes at the leaders of the GOP and these hapless netas are swallowing the bitter pill.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Expressbuzz, 28th May, 2009
BHUBANESWAR: With ‘Aila’ sucking away the moisture and weakening the monsoon system for a brief period, sweltering conditions have returned with a vengeance.
The Western Orissa, bereft of any rains during this whole period, is bearing the brunt.
Large parts of the western districts reeled under heatwave conditions even as there was no progress in monsoon activity over the region. Temperature in towns like Sambalpur and Jharsuguda was close to 45 degree Celsius, followed by Hirakud (44.5), Titlagarh (44), Bhawanipatna (43.7) and Sundargarh (41.3).
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said, though the Bay of Bengal wing of the south west monsoon was passing through some parts of Orissa, rainfall activity was missing which could be attributed to formation of ‘Aila’. While it may have activated the monsoon but played spoilsport at the same time.
‘‘The monsoon current is present over Bay of Bengal and parts of Orissa and it can be seen from the rainfall activity. Had there been no monsoon current, there would not have been rains in such a vast area,’’ IMD Director SC Sahu explained.
Sahu points at ‘Bijli’, another system formed off the Orissa coast recently but it did not result in rain in Orissa since there was no monsoon current.
Besides, the extreme humid conditions in coastal areas, including the Capital City Bhubaneswar, is also indicative of prevalence of monsoon current. The city today recorded 36.6 degree Celsius but experienced severe humidity.
However, Sahu agreed that the Arabian Sea branch of the south west monsoon must be active to trigger sustained rainfall over the entire State which is yet to happen. The Arabian Sea wing is gaining strength and within a week, a clear picture on the monsoon’s progress would emerge.
Newsweb.co.in, 28th May, 2009
''Biju Janata Dal won overwhelmingly in recently conducted simultaneous assembly and parliamentary elections Orissa, however, fails in the backward Western and Southern Orissa except Ganjam due to unequal growth within Orissa in past decade''. It is normal that a small fraction of local population in affected locality opposing industrial activities would vote against ruling party, but percentage of such votes rarely played any role in Orissa whether it was Lanjigarh, Jharsuguda, Paradeep, Puri or Kalinga Nagar. Supporting the belief further BJD also got poor response in Southern and Western Orissa such as Bargarh, Nabarangpur, etc where there were no industrial activities. Anti-industry protest was not an election issue by any major political parties, such as BJP or Congress, in Orissa in this election unlike was the case for Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. For example, in Kalahandi anti-Vedanta protest rarely got any support out side Lanjigarh block that's too among the affected people and few groups in Bhawanipatna who had professional and political reasons. Most of the general public out side Lanjigarh block was never excited to oppose Vedanta. Vedanta being only major industry in the district large number of intellectuals in the district out side Lanjigarh region was indeed in support of the project. Thus, a theory put earlier based on anti-industrial sentiment was illogical. Another theory argues that election results also rule out the possibility of two kilogram rice scheme had any big role. Was 25 kg of rice every month at Rs 2 the reason in this election BJD would have done wonder in Southern and Western Orissa where higher percentage of voters is benefited from the scheme? BJD did not receive any overwhelming response in backward and poverty zone of Western and Southern Orissa including KBK region unlike costal part of Orissa. This idea is also supported by few others. In fact if the fate of first phase election comprising Western and large part of Southern Orissa (32 seats out of 70, 46% won by BJD) would have been repeated in the second phase election, BJD would not have got majority or might have lost this election in Orissa. Many analysts fail to explain why people voted overwhelmingly (71 seats out of 77, 93% won by BJD & alliance) to BJD & alliance in the second phase election. BJD MP Jay Panda reasoned BJD's overwhelming success is solely due to Naveen Patnaik and his Government's developmental initiatives & success. Most of the people in Orissa may buy this argument; however, in that case looking at voting trend in Orissa, Jay Panda fails to explain why BJD failed in Western and Southern Orissa compared to rest of Orissa. Scrutinizing all the points on thing is clear ,''the growth in Orissa is either not equal or not reaching properly to western and southern part of Orissa except Ganjam district''. Ganjam district can also be classified as costal Orissa rather than Southern Orissa as per geography where BJD also won overwhelmingly. If over all development is an indication in this election then congress would not have won in a huge margin for MP seat and overwhelmingly got four MLA seats in Kalahandi, an anti-congress bastion, unlike any other district in Orissa. Kalahandi known for anti-congress sentiment had voted BJD-BJP combine in the last two elections overwhelmingly. Kalahandi was the only parliamentary constituency in the whole Southern and Western Orissa where BJD-BJP combine had won all the MLA and MP seats including an independent MLA in Nuapada, a rival BJD candidate who retuned to BJD later on. Out of fifteen parliamentary elections the country has gone through since independence, congress has won only four times in Kalahandi; first time when congress wave was sweeping all over the nation under Indira Gandhi's leadership after the fall of Janata Dal Government; second time when Indira Gandhi was killed and the nation voted sympathetically and overwhelmingly to Rajiv Gandhi Government; third time when Rajiv Gandhi was killed in 1991 the people voted Congress again sympathetically all over the nation (if Rajiv Gandhi were not killed, many analysts had predicted Advani would have been the prime minister of India in 1991, in Kalahandi too BJP would have won); and this is the fourth time Congress has won Kalahandi parliamentary seat, of course with an huge margin. When one compares the situation of main roads, bridges, educational institutions where state Government has more roles to play (unlike the case of railways) in Kalahandi, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Bargarh, etc these are similar as before. The conditions of main roads are as it used to be decades ago, only exceptions are few village roads through Prime Minister Gramya Sadaka Yojana. A bridge promised by BJD Government since 2000 near Junagarh has not been fulfilled yet after two elections. Other local demands like bridge near Mahaling, Karhcala, etc and improvement of major roads are not getting any buyers. In contract Bhubaneswar region is developing like never before. In today's India even rural people can see what is going around. Visiting Bhubaneswar these days gives pleasant feeling with wide roads where as travelling from Balangir to Nabarangpur via Bhawanipatna on NH201 can be heartening. People from Nuapada district or Padampur almost spend the whole day to reach Jaipatna of Kalahandi district whereas Berhampur to Bhubaneswar or Sambalpur to Bhubaneswar can hardly requires few hours. The unequal growth is clearly visible in the ground level and could be due to either unequal distribution or corruption in the ground level. In both cases it is the role of the state Government to distribute internally within the state and implement it properly in the ground level. Unfortunately, Orissa CM visits Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput and Kandhamal (KBKK) and other backward western Orissa region only during election time or unless there is serious trouble in the region like Maoists or flood which rarely occurs in fiver years. In last five years he visited Kalahandi four times out of which three times just before this election; one time for laying foundation stones and other two times for election campaigning to two different regions within the district; and first time was an Arial survey during a flood in Aatigaon region. Where as one can find him visiting Ganjam and some other costal Orissa pockets at least once, if not so often, in a year for some kind of inauguration, this or that, in addition to his visits during trouble hours. Such visit makes a difference in the ground level, as it put officials in alert and helps to monitor the progress properly in an interval when the CM is supposed to be good, proactive and honest as people in the state thought. This is the time that seriously needs rethinking on the basis of regional growth in Western and Southern part of Orissa if BJD won this election only due to the development & nothing else, and BJD dreams for a developed and peaceful Orissa for tomorrow, in Orissa CM's own language. Otherwise it will encourage regionalism and divide people internally within Orissa. As Jay Panda concludes, Pappu can dance.. saala, however, this dance should not be confined to night clubs in Bhubaneswar; the real dance comes from the ups and downs on the roads while travelling from Bongomunda (Balangir) to Raniguda (Koraput) via Kegaon, Dharamgarh, Moter, Jaipatna and Mukhiguda in KBK. If Pappu succeeds in it all over Orissa, then we will definitely and happily say, Pappu can really dance!!!
Digambara Patra, Beirut
Statesman News Service
BHAWANIPATNA, 27 MAY: Vedanta Aluminium Limited, Lanjigarh observed an HIV/AIDS Awareness Week from 19 May to 26 May, 2009.
During the week, the company organised mass awareness program on this killer disease through street-plays and folk dance.
The drive was organised in collaboration with Orissa State AIDS Control Society. Under the program, 20853 people from villages near Vedanta Alumina Refinery were sensitised on different issues related to HIV/AIDS.
Welcoming the initiative, Dr Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer of Vedanta Aluminium Lanjigarh said: “Lanjigarh has huge number of floating population, who are most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The awareness initiative is our initiative to prevent the disease in Lanjigarh”.
He further informed that more villages will be included in similar awareness building program, that will cover not only HIV/AIDS but also other diseases like malaria.
Vedanta Aluminium Limited has started Integrated Counseling and Training Center at Lanjigarh in Collaboration with Orissa State AIDS Control Society. This centre is the first voluntary counseling and testing centre in Lanjigarh. The centre provides counseling and testing facilities for HIV/AIDS to the community members, migrant workers and truck driver, said a release issued by the company here.
Bhubaneswar: Having sent six MPs to the Lok Sabha “in the face of the Naveen Patnaik wave”, Congressmen in Orissa are peeved and “deeply hurt” that only one of them has found representation in the Manmohan Singh Government.
Even the Minister of State rank for Srikant Jena, 59, who earlier served as a Cabinet minister in the United Front government between 1996 and 1998, is causing a lot of heartburn. Though he remained tightlipped, sources close to Jena said he expected either a Cabinet rank or a Minister of State (Independent charge) at least.
Apart from Jena, who is a former Union parliamentary minister, ex-chief minister and tribal leader Hemananda Biswal and former Union railway minister of state Bhakta Charan Das were in the race. If Biswal’s tribal leader stature put him in contention, Das is credited with reviving the Congress in Kalahandi and western Orissa, once considered the party’s pocket boroughs. What perhaps set Jena apart was that he was the only Congressman to have withstood the pro-Naveen surge in coastal Orissa, winning from Balasore.
A senior leader of the party admitted that taking in just one minister of state from Orissa may send a wrong signal to the state. “This amounts to humiliation. Could the high command not have given Jena a Cabinet rank at least?” he said.
Nabrangpur MP Pradeep Majhi said he expected at least two of the six MPs to be made ministers. “We were very sure that Orissa would get at least one Cabinet and one minister of state (independent). We are feeling very sad,” Majhi told The Indian Express.
According to political commentator Rabi Das, the Congress has always neglected Orissa when it comes to representation in the Union Cabinet, while non-Congress governments have treated the state better. “In the last 50 years, except J B Patnaik’s ministership in the Indira Gandhi regime, Orissa has not got a Cabinet-rank minister. But in non-Congress governments, including the NDA regime between 1999 and 2004, there were two Cabinet ministers and two ministers of State. If the Congress continues to neglect Orissa like this, then why would the people of Orissa vote for the Congress?” he asked.
The Orissa government proposes to operationalise various provisions of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) development policy 2009 soon.
This pertain to the preparation of exclusive list for small scale products, vendor development, buyer-seller meet, formulation of the venture capital scheme among others. As part of the initiative, the industry department plans to organise a national level trade fair here in the coming winter.
“We have initiated measures to operationalise various provisions in the MSME Development policy 2009 as per industrial policy resolution-2008”, an official associated with the process said.
The small organisations holding trade fair in a smaller scale earlier will be invited to participate in the event, which is proposed to be more comprehensive with separate segments for items like handicrafts, small scale units, service providers, marketing, technology and training.
A four member committee comprising of additional secretary (industries department), managing director, Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC) , director, export promotion and marketing (EPM) and director (handicraft and cottage industries) has been constituted to prepare the ground work for the trade fair.
Similarly, the proposal to implement a venture capital scheme has made substantial headway. The state owned Orissa State Financial Corporation (OSFC) has submitted a draft of the scheme to the industry department and it is being examined. The scheme envisages building a corpus to provide financial assistance to new Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the form of equity and quasi-equity. As per the proposal, the state government will provide some funds for the corpus and other financial institutions like the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will be invited to contribute to the corpus.
The eligible new and innovative units will be provided some equity and soft loans at a subsidised rate of interest after due appraisal. Under the scheme, MSMEs winning orders from any organisation can avail raw material on credit from the state-owned Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC), which will recover its money from the organisation later.
On the other hand, to meet the infrastructure needs of MSMEs in the state, exclusive industrial parks are proposed to be set up in locations like Kalinga Nagar, Barbil, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, Paradeep, Rourkela, Bragarh, Balasore, Dhamra, Gopalpur, Chhatrapur, Raygada, Kalahandi and Choudwar. The proposed industrial parks will come up in major industrial hubs and will have all basic infrastructure facilities like water supply, power, facilities for waste management, testing laboratories and other civic amenities.
The government intends to set up industrial parks closer to special economic zones (SEZs) and the state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) has been entrusted with the job of promoting these parks, sources added.
PNS | Bhubaneswar
The Congress high command has once again given a rude shock to the State by proposing to include only one MP Srikant Jena in the Manmohan Singh Ministry which is to be expanded on Thursday. The State sent six Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and it was expected that the high command would at least include two members in the Union Ministry.
The humiliating part was that, during Thursday's scheduled Cabinet expansion, Jena a former Cabinet Minister in the HD Deva Gowda Government in 1996-97, would be included as Minister of State and not in the rank of Cabinet Minister. It would be a relegation for him as during that period Jena served as Cabinet Minister with important portfolios like Parliamentary Affairs and Department of Tourism. Earlier, he also served as Minister of State during the tenure of former Prime Minister IK Gujral in 1989-91.
After being constantly neglected by the Congress, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has made inroads in State politics and has become stronger day by day. opposing the Congress's apathetic attitude towards the cause of Orissa, the BJD was formed in 1997 and within a span of 12-years, it has managed to push the Congress to the brink of disaster. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has also been marginally reduced to 26. However, it improved its Lok Sabha seat tally from two to six. Now, it has been rumoured that Jena might not accept the post of Minister of State as it would be a humiliation both to him and to the State. All attempts to contact him have failed.
Besides downgrading the status of Jena, no steps were taken to include either former Railway Minister Bhakta Charan Das or Hemananda Biswal. However, political sources maintained that as pressure has been mounted on the Congress, it might think of changing its strategy to include one more MP from Orissa at the last moment to save its skin. All sorts of humiliation would backfire in the future and the BJD would benefit from it, political observers pointed out.
Breakingnewsonline.net, 28th May, 2009
24/7 News network : Orissa, which sent 6 Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, was neglected again during tomorrow's scheduled Cabinet expansion.Only Balasore MP Srikant Jena was included as the Minister of State - a relegation for him, as he served as a Cabinet Minister with most important portfolios - Parliamentary Affairs and Department of Tourism during the tenure of former PM I K Gujral in 1989-91.
Former Railway Minister Bhakta Charan Das, who won by a huge margin from underdeveloped Kalahandi district in the state, was ignored, even as he was a strong contender to be a Minister in Dr.Manmohan Singh's cabinet.Mr. Bhakta Charan Das's exclusion came as a shock and surprise for many in the state.
During the 2004 general elections, Congress had just 2 Lok Sabha MPs in Orissa. However, this time around, the party did reasonably well and won Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Balasore, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Bargarh.People in Orissa, expected to be rewarded with atleast 2 berths including a Cabinet Minister. But that did not happen.
Orissadairy.com, 27th May, 2009
“Biju Janata Dal won overwhelmingly in recently conducted simultaneous assembly and parliamentary elections Orissa, however, fails in the backward Western and Southern Orissa except Ganjam due to unequal growth within Orissa in past decade”
It is normal that a small fraction of local population in affected locality opposing industrial activities would vote against ruling party, but percentage of such votes rarely played any role in Orissa whether it was Lanjigarh, Jharsuguda, Paradeep, Puri or Kalinga Nagar. Supporting the belief further BJD also got poor response in Southern and Western Orissa such as Bargarh, Nabarangpur, etc where there were no industrial activities.
Anti-industry protest was not an election issue by any major political parties, such as BJP or Congress, in Orissa in this election unlike was the case for Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. For example, in Kalahandi anti-Vedanta protest rarely got any support out side Lanjigarh block that’s too among the affected people and few groups in Bhawanipatna who had professional and political reasons. Most of the general public out side Lanjigarh block was never excited to oppose Vedanta. Vedanta being only major industry in the district large number of intellectuals in the district out side Lanjigarh region was indeed in support of the project. Thus, a theory put earlier based on anti-industrial sentiment was illogical.
Another theory argues that election results also rule out the possibility of two kilogram rice scheme had any big role. Was 25 kg of rice every month at Rs 2 the reason in this election BJD would have done wonder in Southern and Western Orissa where higher percentage of voters is benefited from the scheme? BJD did not receive any overwhelming response in backward and poverty zone of Western and Southern Orissa including KBK region unlike costal part of Orissa. This idea is also supported by few others.
In fact if the fate of first phase election comprising Western and large part of Southern Orissa (32 seats out of 70, 46% won by BJD) would have been repeated in the second phase election, BJD would not have got majority or might have lost this election in Orissa.
Many analysts fail to explain why people voted overwhelmingly (71 seats out of 77, 93% won by BJD & alliance) to BJD & alliance in the second phase election. BJD MP Jay Panda reasoned BJD’s overwhelming success is solely due to Naveen Patnaik and his Government’s developmental initiatives & success. Most of the people in Orissa may buy this argument; however, in that case looking at voting trend in Orissa, Jay Panda fails to explain why BJD failed in Western and Southern Orissa compared to rest of Orissa.
Scrutinizing all the points on thing is clear , “the growth in Orissa is either not equal or not reaching properly to western and southern part of Orissa except Ganjam district”. Ganjam district can also be classified as costal Orissa rather than Southern Orissa as per geography where BJD also won overwhelmingly.
If over all development is an indication in this election then congress would not have won in a huge margin for MP seat and overwhelmingly got four MLA seats in Kalahandi, an anti-congress bastion, unlike any other district in Orissa.
Kalahandi known for anti-congress sentiment had voted BJD-BJP combine in the last two elections overwhelmingly. Kalahandi was the only parliamentary constituency in the whole Southern and Western Orissa where BJD-BJP combine had won all the MLA and MP seats including an independent MLA in Nuapada, a rival BJD candidate who retuned to BJD later on.
Out of fifteen parliamentary elections the country has gone through since independence, congress has won only four times in Kalahandi; first time when congress wave was sweeping all over the nation under Indira Gandhi’s leadership after the fall of Janata Dal Government; second time when Indira Gandhi was killed and the nation voted sympathetically and overwhelmingly to Rajiv Gandhi Government; third time when Rajiv Gandhi was killed in 1991 the people voted Congress again sympathetically all over the nation (if Rajiv Gandhi were not killed, many analysts had predicted Advani would have been the prime minister of India in 1991, in Kalahandi too BJP would have won); and this is the fourth time Congress has won Kalahandi parliamentary seat, of course with an huge margin.
When one compares the situation of main roads, bridges, educational institutions where state Government has more roles to play (unlike the case of railways) in Kalahandi, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Bargarh, etc these are similar as before. The conditions of main roads are as it used to be decades ago, only exceptions are few village roads through Prime Minister Gramya Sadaka Yojana.
A bridge promised by BJD Government since 2000 near Junagarh has not been fulfilled yet after two elections. Other local demands like bridge near Mahaling, Karhcala, etc and improvement of major roads are not getting any buyers. In contract Bhubaneswar region is developing like never before.
In today’s India even rural people can see what is going around. Visiting Bhubaneswar these days gives pleasant feeling with wide roads where as travelling from Balangir to Nabarangpur via Bhawanipatna on NH201 can be heartening. People from Nuapada district or Padampur almost spend the whole day to reach Jaipatna of Kalahandi district whereas Berhampur to Bhubaneswar or Sambalpur to Bhubaneswar can hardly requires few hours.
The unequal growth is clearly visible in the ground level and could be due to either unequal distribution or corruption in the ground level. In both cases it is the role of the state Government to distribute internally within the state and implement it properly in the ground level.
Unfortunately, Orissa CM visits Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput and Kandhamal (KBKK) and other backward western Orissa region only during election time or unless there is serious trouble in the region like Maoists or flood which rarely occurs in fiver years.
In last five years he visited Kalahandi four times out of which three times just before this election; one time for laying foundation stones and other two times for election campaigning to two different regions within the district; and first time was an Arial survey during a flood in Aatigaon region.
Where as one can find him visiting Ganjam and some other costal Orissa pockets at least once, if not so often, in a year for some kind of inauguration, this or that, in addition to his visits during trouble hours. Such visit makes a difference in the ground level, as it put officials in alert and helps to monitor the progress properly in an interval when the CM is supposed to be good, proactive and honest as people in the state thought.
This is the time that seriously needs rethinking on the basis of regional growth in Western and Southern part of Orissa if BJD won this election only due to the development & nothing else, and BJD dreams for a developed and peaceful Orissa for tomorrow, in Orissa CM’s own language. Otherwise it will encourage regionalism and divide people internally within Orissa.
As Jay Panda concludes, Pappu can dance ….. saala, however, this dance should not be confined to night clubs in Bhubaneswar; the real dance comes from the ups and downs on the roads while travelling from Bongomunda (Balangir) to Raniguda (Koraput) via Kegaon, Dharamgarh, Moter, Jaipatna and Mukhiguda in KBK.
If Pappu succeeds in it all over Orissa, then we will definitely and happily say,
Pappu can really dance!!!
Expressbuzz.com, 28th May, 2009
BHAWANIPATNA: Rahul Jain is ecstatic and Kalahandi is shining in the glory achieved by him.
A first for the district - Rahul has topped the Plus-Two Commerce chart in the State, the results of which were declared today by the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE).
A student of Government Junior College, Bhawanipatna, Rahul scored 544 marks. Son of a local cloth merchant Ramesh Jain, Rahul attributes his success to hard work and dedication. The topper aspires to study Business Administration after graduation. The Government Junior College achieved mixed results in this examination. The Commerce success rate was much better than Arts and Science.
In Commerce out of 109 students who appeared for the examination 70 came out successful. Of them 40 passed in first division, 15 in second and third divisions respectively.
The Science and Arts results were dismal.
In Science out of 126 students only 55 could clear with just 16 securing the first division, 24 second division and 15 third division.
In Arts, out of 239 students only 112 were declared pass. The poor performance was attributed to acute shortage of teaching staff, particularly in Science.
The Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s first year training programme, known as Sangh Sikshya Barga, was inaugurated by Khetriya Pracharak Sunilpada Goswami recently at Saraswati Sishu Mandir in Bhawanipatna. The training camp will conclude on June 5.Around 130 men aged between 15 and 40 years from 15 districts of Orissa are attending the 20-day-long training camp. They are being trained by 22 RSS men where lessons in personality development and Rashtra Bhakti are being imparted. The day begins at 4 am and goes on till 10 pm where physical fitness, lathi (danda), martial art, yoga and other disciplines are taught during the training period.The same programme is being conducted at Keonjhar with 90 trainees.RSS was founded by Dr Kesab Baliram Hedgewar on the eve of Vijaya Dasami in 1925. Since then the Sangh Pariwar has been working conscientiously to achieve its goals.All India Hindu Jagaran Samukhya Sanjojaka, Harihar Nanda told the trainees in a meeting held in the camp that only good health and a united society can be a permanent solution to every problem of the country. Khetriya Pracharak of East Zone, Ajit K Mohapatra and Rajendra Prasad were also present at the meeting.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh in his first ever Press conference on Tuesday said the Opposition would play a constructive role on the floor of the Assembly. “We will ensure that the MLAs should get the required answer as sought by them in the Assembly,” he said, adding that steps would be taken to bring the truth on the floor of the House.Terming the ruling party as Kaurava Sena, he said the Opposition would play the role of the Pandav. “We may be less in numbers but we can bring trouble for the Government.” he said, adding that the Opposition would take all care to bring the issue affecting the common man.He further said stress should be given for the development of the agriculture in Orissa. “Without improving the agriculture, the economy of the State can not be improved,” he said. Singh further demanded that the Government should immediately take steps to open Mandis in each panchayat for at least five days to procure paddy.He also solicited the Press’s cooperation. “The Press should provide the required support to the Opposition,” he said.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Bhubaneswar: A non-resident Oriya, Madhusmita Panda from Lebanon, has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure that Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district extends it anganwadi nutritional and educational programmes in all blocks in the district. An additional mobile health facility by the company should also be placed in Dharmagarh in the district as Vedanta has yet to contribute for the welfare of people in this sub-division. The question of mining by Vedanta is not a major issue if the company invests for social development and primary healthcare for the poor people in the backward region, she added.
PNS | Bhawanipatna
There was jubilation here on Tuesday as local lad Rahul Jain, son of Ramesh Jain topped in the Plus Two Commerce results, securing 544 marks out of the total 600.
Another local student, Pekshya Agrawal, daughter of Chartered Accountant Sitaram Agrawal, secured the 9th rank getting 516 marks in the +2 Commerce results.
PNS | Bhubaneswar
The Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) of Orissa on Tuesday announced the Class XII results for +2 Arts, Science, Commerce and Vocational Courses. Announcing this result here at the council office, Higher Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said for the first time the results of all the streams Science, Arts and Commerce were declared simultaneously by the Council. Chandrima Banerjee of BJB Junior College topped in Arts stream with 539 marks, Rahul Jain of Government Junior College , Bhawanipatna stood first in Commerce stream with 544 marks and Anurag Dash of BJB Junior College topped in Science stream with 571 marks. Girls outshine the boys in all the streams in terms of pass ratio.
ARTS: Out of 1, 40,249 students appeared examination under Arts stream, 97,433 students came out with flying colours. The pass per cent stood at 69.47 per cent. The girls outshined the boys in term of success ratio. While 72.53 per cent girls came with flying colours, 66 per cent boys succeeded in the examination. 76,864 students passed in regular course, 15,603 in ex-regular and 4,966 in private course.
While 6,101 students were placed in 1st division, 24,278 got 2nd division and 64,853 students passed in 3rd division. 2,201 students placed in the compartmental. 34 students found place in the first 20 ranks. Out of them only five are boys and the rest are girls. Ravenshaw college bagged eight out the 34 closely followed by SCS Junior College, Puri with seven positions. BJB Junior College and Krushna PD Women’s College, Dasapalla bagged three positions each.
While 65.22 students passed in SC category, 62.05 per cent student belonging to ST category came out with flying colours. The highest per cent pass ratio was reported from Baragarh with 85.36 per cent pass. The lowest per cent pass ratio was reported from Nawapara district with 50.77 per cent.
SCIENCE: The pass per cent in Science stream stood at 71.67 per cent. 41,439 students came out with flying colour out of 57,812 students appeared the examination. Like the Arts stream, the girls outsmart the boys in Science also. While the pass per cent of girls touched 72.87 per cent, the boys success rate stood at 71.02 per cent. 33,928 students passed in regular stream, 7,511 in ex-regular stream. 12,067 placed in 1st division, 14,669 in 2nd division, 13,687 in 3rd division and 956 in compartmental. 49 students found their names in the first 20 ranks. BJB College students swept the first 20 position..35 students of the college have found their names in the first 20 rank. Six students of Ravenshaw College managed to grab the position in the first 20 rank. However, the boys bagged a number of positions in the first 20 ranks than the girls. Out of the 49 students, 31 are boys and the rest are girls. SC and ST students did well examination with reported pass per cent of 59.80 and 52.53 per cent respectively.
Sambalpur district topped among all the districts with pass per cent of 82.91 per cent. The lowest pass per cent reported from Nawapara with 21.39 per cent.
COMMERCE: 13,844 students came out with flying colours out of 18,565 appeared. The pass per cent stood at 74.78 per cent. While 12,421 passed in regular, 1,266 in ex-regular and 197 students passed in private streams. The female also outshined their counterparts with a reported pass per cent of 84.44 per cent. 72.02 per cent boys passed in this stream. 3,671 students passed in 1st division, 3,811 in 2nd division, 6,314 in 3rd division and 88 placed in compartmental. 38 students have made inroads to the first 20 ranks. Out of the 38, 27 are girls and the rest are boys.
Ravenshaw College students bagged nine positions, BJB College _ seven, GM Junior college _ 4 , Government Junior College , Bhawanipatna and SCS Junior College bagged 2 positions each. Deogarh district topped with pass ratio of 87.85 per cent. The lowest per cent pass ratio was reported from Angul district with 54.31 per cent. While the pass per cent among the SC students stood at 65.08 per cent, the pass per cent among ST is 54.85 per cent.
VOCATIONAL COURSE: The pass per cent in vocational cases stood at 92.19 per cent. 26 students found place in the first 20 ranks. While 15 girls found their place in first 20, 11 boys found their name among the rank holders.
While 1,938 girls passed in the examination, 3,270 boys came out with flying colours. 2,048 placed in 1st division, 2, 692 in 2nd division, 398 in 3rd division and 70 placed in compartmental.
Orissadairy.com, 25th May, 2009
By Ashis Senapati, Kendrapada:
The farming community, in West Bengal voted against the Left Front government in the poll as the government had acquired land or tried to form industries by acquiring farm lands. In Nandigram, Singur and other parts of West Bengal, the Left has been given a strong message by the electorate in the election. But in contrary, Kalingnagar of Jajpur district in Orissa , where 14 tribals had been killed by the police three years back , voters voted in favour of the ruling BJD . That the acquisition of lands for purposes industrial is not acceptable to the farming community in Bengal became abundantly clear as the Left front lost in the election. But large numbers of voters including many tribals of Kalinganagar where land acquisition has become a contentious issue elected BJD leader and finance minister Prafulla Ghadei as the MLA of Sukinda by defeating Congress candidate Sarat Rout. Even in Balikuda- Earasama assembly seat under the Dhinkia Gram Panchayat, voters elected BJD candidate Prasanta Mudali a greenhorn by defeating veteran congress candidate Umesh Swain. “The Congress made a sizable dent in Sukinda areas after the killing of tribals. But the congress party failed to garner more votes to win the election due to two kilogram rice scheme and other developmental works of BJD government”, said Sankarsan Kandi a villager of Chandia village near Kalinganagar. “Kalinganagar is where Tata is building its steel plant and many steel and other plants are coming up opened doors for many unemployed youths to get jobs for which the majority of voters in these areas seem to have sent a strong message in favour of BJD , for the first time where an industrial issue has become a positive factor in the polls”, said Mohan Jena the BJD MP of Jajpur. In Singur, where the Trinamool Congress had sided with farmers and opposed the Tata Motors factory, the party defeated Left front candidate. But in Kalinganagar voters overwhelmingly supported the industrialization and voted in favour of BJD, said Rabi Samal a BJD leader of Kendrapada. “The main opposition party , Congress failed to rake up the land acquisition issues in the election . CPM and CPI were strongly opposing BJD government ‘s industrial policy . But before the polls, both Left parties formed an alliance with BJD to defeat BJP and Congress in the state . In Kalingnagar and Dhinkia areas Left parties were the frontrunner to organize the people against the TATA and POSCO . But their decision to support BJD also helped to BJD to win the election in the state”, said Sishir Mohapatra a land-acquisition leader and the general secretary of POSCO Pratirodhaka Sangram Samiti (PPSS) of Dhinkia village. “ In Sukinda, BJD candidate and finance minister Prafulla Ghadei won the election by defeating me by a slender margin of 2404 votes. BJD candidate spent crores of rupees and rigged election in many booths for which BJD managed to win in Sukinda . Large numbers of anti-land acquisition villagers of Kalinganagar and its nearby areas voted in favour of me ”, said Sarat Rout the Congress candidate of Sukinda. Prafulla Samantray a social worker and the president Lokshakti Abhijan stated ” The majority people of Kalinganagar,, Dhinkia, Langigada, Kashipur and Niyamagiri areas voted against the BJD. Voters of Kalahandi elected Congress candidate Bhakta Das as the member of parliament of Kalahandi because Das has been fighting to protect the Niyamagiri hillock from Vedanta. Vedanta Alumina industry has been trying to acquire Niyamagiri hillock since long. In Langigada BJD candidate Balabhadra Majhi also lost the election at the hand of Congress candidate Shivaji Majhi. Mamata led the anti-land acquisation movement in West Bengal. But in Orissa, sundry political parties did not take any steps to organise any movement against big companies and BJD for which BJD won in the election"
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
CJ: Bikram Panda
Thousands of E-Group clubs have been set up to unite the people of Kalahandi across geographical boundaries for a social cause. These clubs want to draw the attention of the government to the problems that plague the hapless district of Kalahandi..
KALAHANDI, THE western district of Orissa has been in the news since the 80s for all the wrong reasons like selling of children, low cost labour, bad roads, poor governance, poor medical facilities, famine and poverty. But there is a silver lining to the dark clouds in the form of some development initiatives that have been taken in the recent past.
The Upper Indravati Project, The National Highway 207, The Vedanta Alumina Limited, a large workforce of IT Professionals are signs that Kalahandi has begun its long delayed march to progress. Nowadays if you surf the Internet, then you will come across different websites, blogs, news sites and tourist sites specially dedicated to Kalahandi by Kalahandians. Thousands of E-Group clubs have been set up to unite the people of Kalahandi across geographical boundaries for a social cause. These clubs want to draw the attention of the government to the problems that plague Kalahandi.
The most recent problem of the people of Kalahandi is the bridge over Hati river near Junagarh. The facts and figures of this are as follows:
People residing in the nearby villages of Junagarh (Balichada, Karmeli, Mandal to name a few) face severe floods during the rainy season due to the Hati river (during July-September), which causes a huge loss to property. No proper action has been taken so far by the Kalahandi district administration for the construction of roads and other measures for the welfare of people residing in this area. The Upper Indravati Hydel Project Law Book says that the 3 per cent of the income of the Hydel Project should be invested in Kalahandi's development. The villagers are shifting to different places due to the floods and there's no improvement on the Hati riverside wall construction.
If we want to go to Kalampur from Moter then there are two links. One is via Junagarh (60 km) and another one via Mukhiguda (50 km). There’s another short route to visit Kalampur from Moter i.e through Karchala which is around 15 km but Hati river is between Kalampur and Moter. (near Mandal village).
In late 1999 when Hemannda Biswal was the Chief Minister of Orissa, he promised the Construction of a Bridge Over Hati near Karchala (2 km distance). In 2003, the Navin Patnaik government (BJD) visited the area and made many promises but no action has been taken till date. In 2003 the estimate of the bridge was Rs 4 crore and it was later revised to Rs 9 crore. But no one really knows where the money went. Our so-called MLAs and MPs should show some commitment to the development of this region and not just work for their own prosperity!
The Members of Kalahandia E-Group club have identified the following reasons for the delay in executing projects for Kalahandi’s development:
Lack of Communication between people and the administration
No influential legislators
No influential Member of Parliament
Lack of proper administration
Lack of funding by Central Government as well as State Government
Hope to see an improvement in the region after the election of MLA Puspinder Sigh Deo (BJD) and MP Bhakta Charan Das (Cong).
Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna
The receding water level at Indravati reservoir has caused the closure of its electricity production unit since Thursday.
The farmers are going to be the worst sufferers this summer who are cultivating their lands under the Indravati Irrigation Project.
Water of over 500 rivers covering 110 sq km area is reserved in the Indravati reservoir.
As the heat wave continues across the State, the rivers are being dried up resulting in recession of water in the reservoir below its normal level.
Indravati is having the capacity of reserving water 642 meters high but it has receded to 626 meters preventing the generation of electricity. 300 MW electricity is produced every day which is supplied outside the State.
The project has the capacity of generating 1,962 million MW electricity annually, but it generated 2,280 million MW in 2007-08.
Sources said overwhelmed by huge amount of profit, more energy was produced from the Indravati Irrigation Project this year as compared to its generation capacity.
Farmers are now pondering day and night how they will survive if their lands are not provided water from the Indravati Irrigation Project.
Monday, May 25, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar
Senior Congress leader and Narla MLA Bhupinder Singh was elected as Leader of Opposition on Sunday.
In order to elect a leader of Opposition unanimously, AICC general secretary and in-charge of Orissa Ghulam Nabi Azad rushed to Bhubaneswar and a Congress Legislature Party meeting was held at Congress Bhawan. PCC president KP Singh Deo was present in the meeting. Out of 27 elected MLAs, 25 attended.
Kotpad MLA Basudev Majhi proposed the name of Singh.
Later, he was unanimously elected as the Leader of Opposition. Mohana MLA Chakradhar Paika was elected as deputy leader of Opposition. While Sataybadi MLA Prasad Harichandan has been appointed as the Opposition Chief Whip, Jharsuguda MLA Anup Sai has been appointed as secretary of the party in Orissa Legislative Assembly.
During his visit, Azad admitted that a weak organisational structure led to the defeat of the party. “The PCC organisation should have been restructured six months prior to the elections,” he said, indicating that the delay in appointment of the PCC president led to the defeat of the party.
“The BJD has taken the mileage from central Government sponsored programmes. The Congress leaders were not able to convince people that all programmes are Congress Government programmes,” Azad said.
On being asked about the BJD’s support for the UPA Government, he said that the UPA has enough numbers without the BJD.
Mr. Singh was elected from Narla Constituency in Kalahandi in the last election.
Earlier he had represented Kesinga constiuency 3 time, in this election Kesinga constituency was merged in Bhawanipatana and Narla Constituency. He was Cabinet minister during J B Patnaik Government in Orissa.
We wish him good luck and hope that he will serve and represent Kalahandi well in Orissa assembly. We hope (most likely) he will be elected as leader of opposition.
No record of Goonda kind of politician
Can make good lobby within Congress Party in Orissa
Experience and served as minister for 10 years
His contribution to Kalahandi is not visible
Rarely seen to take any strong local issues and presented in Orissa assembly
An average kind of MLA
Needs to prove in the state politics as a strong leader of CPL and/or opposition leader in the Orissa assembly
Representing Kalahandi and bringing issues like University demand in Kalahandi, Govt medical college, establishing new industries, Polytechnique college in Dharmagarh sub-division, roads and railways issue in the region
Working for irrigation projects in Narala, Karlamunda, Kesinga and Madanpur Rampur regions.
Major roads in Kalahandi are in worst conditions, highlighting these issues in state assembly time to time and monitoring the progress
Bhubaneswar, May 24 (IANS) Former Orissa minister Bhupinder Singh was Sunday unanimously elected leader of Congress party in the state assembly, party sources said.
He was elected at a meeting of the newly elected Congress legislators in the presence of central cabinet minister and Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and state Congress president K.P. Singh Deo.
Singh, a cabinet minister in the former J.B. Patnaik government, was elected to the assembly for the fourth time from the impoverished Kalahandi district.
The legislators also elected Prasad Harichandan as the chief whip of the Congress legislature party.
The Congress won 27 seats in the 147-member assembly in the 2009 state polls.
by Sitaram Kumbhar, 23 May 2009
There are many ways of making analysis of the winner in the 15th Lok Sabha election of 2009. Believe it or not, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), a flagship scheme, and farm loan waiver of the United Progressive Alliance Government helped it in the 2009 general election, like the garibi hatao (remove poverty) slogan of Indira Gandhi did to the Congress to regain power with a magnificent win in 1971. The only difference between the NREGA and garibi hatao is that the latter was a mere slogan whereas the former is already an Act which silently came to the advantage of the Congress. Garibi hatao had got spectacular response from the rural masses especially from the rural landless people. Similarly, the NREGA has energised the whole of rural India. The Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in one of the party conventions on the NREGA, had stressed the role of partymen to reach to the poor through the NREGA in the non-Congress States. In her address, Sonia said: “We have to keep a watch on those States where the Congress does not have its government; if progress is unsatisfactory we have to resort to agitations.” (The Times of India, May 27, 2006) The party would not have improved in all the States without the NREGA. However, it is a fact that winning on the basis of performance is certainly more difficult than seeking votes on the basis of promises.
The NREGA is already operational in the whole of India and all the poorest regions/districts are implementing it. It has been helpful in providing employment opportunities to the rural poor. It has helped them to escape from starvation and food insecurity. The political leaders of different political parties could not appreciate the inherent strengths of one of the gargantuan welfare schemes in the world like the NREGA.
While doing my field work in Kalahandi district of Orissa, a district which had almost become synonymous with poverty, hunger, starvation deaths and child selling, I found a large number of poor people taking about the NREGA. Indeed, most of them happily said that the NREGA was of great help to them. As a response to whom they would be voting in the next election, they said they would “vote for employment” or in other words the NREGA (vote kebala rojagara pai, in Oriya). Perhaps their words got replicated in the 2009 election. The Congress won in Kalahandi parliamentary constituency because the NREGA helped them where it had lost for the last two-and-a-half decades. This indicates that the NREGA is a revolutionary initiative of the UPA Government and helped the Congress party. Though the Left political parties and other UPA allies formed an integral part of the movement which fought for making the “Employment Guarantee” a legal right, they could not encash on the same. Most credit seems to have gone for the Congress in large parts of India. What is surprising is that a large part of rural India voted for the NREGA.
The civil nuclear agreement with the USA is less urgent for the rural poor than the NREGA. The rural poor need food first and then electricity though the latter can certainly further enhance their standard of living. However, urban India seems to have supported the latter and the civil nuclear agreement between India and America in particular. As a result of which the Congress party swept the national Capital and the financial capital of India—Mumbai—in the recent Lok Sabha election. In other words, most of the parliamentary seats in urban cities have gone to the Congress. This success of the Congress in urban India might have been for three reasons which influenced the voting behaviour in urban India.
The first and foremost was the role of the media campaign in urban India for the civil nuclear agreement between India and America. Those parties, which opposed the agreement alleging the surrender of national sovereignty to American neo-imperialism, were openly branded as anti-national, anti-development, pro-China etc. by the national media and vernacular media. The Left parties were the target of the media for quite some time now. The urban middle class was the victim of such a media campaign. Secondly, the urban voters seem to have shown paucity of interest in communalism, sectarian and divisive politics. It is a fact that the BJP had an edge over the Congress in terms of support-base among the urban educated middle class in the previous three Lok Sabha elections. However, it is astounding that the urban middle class voted for the Congress party this time. Thirdly, the clean public image of Dr Manmohan Singh and agenda of economic reform might have been to the liking of a large segment of the urban population. Thus, the Congress earned double dividend from the civil nuclear agreement with America and the NREGA in urban and rural India respectively.
Neo-liberal economic policies historically went to the disadvantage of the rural poor and impoveri-shed a large chunk of the rural people engaged in agriculture and its allied activities. However, many in the national media considered Dr Singh as pro-development and pro-reform which, many argue, paid dividend to the Congress. They forgot to concede that the pro-poor NREGA helped the Congress. Many election pandits have started arguing that good governance helps leaders to win elections. They do so by the drawing conclusion from the 2009 general election. The landslide victory of some of the leaders with clean public image and delivering good governance for the people has prompted the election pundits to actually connect good governance with election victory.
The argument that the voters wanted a stable government and voted the Congress back to power with a clear mandate is wrong. No voter in India had such an idea while casting his vote. The Congress has also started misreading the verdict of the people. It should bear in mind that Dr Manmohan Singh became the only Prime Minister (on May 16, 2009) since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 to be voted back after completing a full five-year term and got the highest number of seats any single party has got in 25 years. It is the first show of the Congress party in UP since 1984. In fact, in UP the Congress drew a blank in 1998. It is surprising that most candidates with criminal records lost in UP. It is synonymous to the BJP’s win in the aftermath of Kargil war in 1999. This (2009) is Congress’s second best performance in Rajasthan after the 1984 Lok Sabha polls when it won 25 out of 25.
A large number of non-government organisations (NGOs) are spreading awareness among the people regarding the NREGA. The social activists and NGOs helped the Congress to win this election as the party is almost cadreless in most parts of India. The number of NGOs working especially on the issues of employment guarantee is surprisingly high. Therefore, credit should legitimately go to the NGO wing of the Congress party. This has not yet attracted the attention of the election pundits. The role of the media campaign in the last couple of years on the genuine issues cannot be overlooked.
In West Bengal, the neo-liberal economic policies of the Left parties were rejected by the highly mobilised and politically aware people of the State. Though the anger of the people and the pre-poll understanding of the Congress and Trinamul Congress helped them fight the CPM, it is time to wait and watch what will happen to the progressive character of the State with the entry of these political forces. In West Bengal, this is the first time since 1984 that the CPM has finished behind others. When Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, the elections that followed saw the Left being routed in West Bengal for the first time after 1977.
What is National Rural Employment Guarantee Act?
The NREGA is one of the revolutionary steps of the United Progressive Government, which guarantees employment to the rural populace to enable them to escape poverty and starvation deaths in rural areas. Assured income will help the poor to bargain wage with the employers leading to the end of exploitation of the unemployed rural mass. It goes a step further and secures the legal right of the people of the Gram Sabha to conduct social audits of work being performed under the NREGA. This is the first acknowledge-ment by the government that it requires people’s help in tackling an imperfect system.
The NREGA, launched in February 2006 in 200 districts, has been a subject of controversy and debate since the days when the experts of the National Advisory Council prepared its blueprint. On December 23, 2004 the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill (NREGB) was referred to the Standing Committee on Rural Development, whose final report was placed before Parliament. The landmark legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 23 and the Rajya Sabha on August 24, 2005. The Centre has taken the responsibility of providing financial assistance to the scheme and the States only have to implement it. The minimum wage, as applicable in various States under the Minimum Wages Act 1948, would apply to the programme. However, the Centre would step in to ensure a minimum rate of not less than Rs 60 a day in States where it is lower. Many people highlight the NREGA’s potentials to reduce rural unemployment, but it has its regular critics who have regularly pilloried it as a burden on the state exchequer calling it short-sighted. The critics argue that it will not help in reducing poverty and only make the Babus rich by large scale corruption.
The NREGS has been one of the biggest programmes to combat rural poverty. Its legal guarantees have radically altered the relationship of the poor with the state. It is necessary to examine how the NREGA is helping the poor in the backward regions in India which assures legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment in a year to one member of the poor and needy household. It is different from many other anti-poverty schemes of the government that were in operation prior to the implementation of the NREGA. The NREGA is meant for both rich and poor households. There were no transparency safeguards in earlier rural employment schemes. Fudging of muster rolls and embezzlement of government funds was common. Documents were not available for public scrutiny. But the transparency safeguards and mandatory social audit have put the NREGA on a different footing in preventing corruption. It is a historical truth that record keeping in employment generation schemes has been very poor and it was not available for public scrutiny. It has stopped rural to urban migration during the slack season. It has empowered women leading to their economic independence. The economic dependency of women on their husband is the decline. The women seem to have voted for the Congress than any other political party due to the NREGA.
The Act places an enforcement obligation on the state, and gives bargaining power to the labourers. There is another major difference between a scheme and an Act. Schemes come and go, but Acts are more durable. A scheme can be cancelled by even a bureaucrat at will, but as the NREGA is an Act, any changes need amendment of Parliament.
Implement NREGA to Garner People’s Support
Contrary to the arguments of the election pundits, I argue that pro-active implementation of the NREGA helped to garner votes in the large part of rural India than any other election issue could garner. Though the NREGA was not an issue in 2009, it helped those leaders who implemented it. Those leaders, who were pro-active in imple-menting the NREGA, have got enormous response from the voters. The rural voters have reposed their faith in them for doing the right thing which the rural poor needed the most. This response from the rural masses is primarily for two important reasons. The first reason is that a large chunk of the rural population is below the poverty line and they urgently needed a scheme like the NREGA. Secondly, the scheme is free from corruption which pays statutory minimum wage. Now the wage-dependents do not have to go to the rich village landlord’s door to request him for employment. Maximum labour and minimum wage will disappear from rural India. This is because wage is easily available under the NREGA. The distress sale of assets by the rural poor for a small amount will find its way out. Despite a high rate of economic growth right from the 1990s, absolute poverty persists in most parts of rural India. The high rate of economic growth has not led to the trickle-down effect to reduce poverty. The starvation deaths, high level of malnutrition among the children and farmers’ suicides are testimony to the fact that rural India is going through a severe crisis. The NREGA can contribute a great deal in solving many of these problems.
The Congress party has got a huge response in the form of votes in areas where the incidence of poverty is very high. The backward/tribal regions with high concentration of SC/ST population, among whom the incidence of poverty is high due to landlessness and land alienation, voted for the Congress due to the obvious reason that they are the main beneficiaries of the NREGA. For them, the NREGA is a surprise gift as historically the backward regions with their high concentration do not benefit from the welfare schemes of the government due to bureaucratic corruption. The NREGA has many strong safeguards to ward off leakages. The mandatory “social audit” has made the scheme more transparent which will help the poor and rural India in the long run by creating durable productive assets.
Political leaders from political parties other than the Congress who implemented the NREGA in a pro-active manner took credits and they have encashed themselves in this election. Those States doing well in the implementation of the NREGA have been able to get the people’s strong support. In Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh the scheme is being implemented effectively. Thus, they received full support of the poor. States with non-Congress governments, such as Bihar and Orissa that have been implementing the NREGA effectively forgetting retributive politics, have got massive support from the rural constituencies in the respective States.
The author is an Assistant Professor in Political Science, Shyamlal College, University of Delhi.
BHUBANESWAR: The 2009 elections has brought in a sort of mutagenic evolution in Orissa’s politico-electoral history. Against all expectations the BJD sweep has completely altered the poll arithmetic in the State.
Up to 2004 elections, the strategy was to consolidate the anti-Congress votes, but 2009 polls have seen a 360-degree change. The tussle is now between Naveen and anti-Naveen. And, with the Naveen-led regional outfit holding on to its vote-share like the Congress did earlier, the division of anti-Naveen votes between Cong and BJP provided the unexpected twist to the outcome.
Looking at voting pattern, BJD has garnered 7 per cent more votes than 2004 Lok Sabha polls but only 3 per cent more than 1999 Lok Sabha polls. In contrast, Congress has lost 7.25 per cent over 2004 and 4.25 per cent over 1999 polls. The BJP lost 2.11 per cent and around 8 per cent over 2004 and 1999 polls respectively.
In the Assembly elections, the BJD gained 11 per cent over 2004 and 10 per cent over 2000. The Congress lost 5 per cent over 2004 and 2000 polls equally while BJP lost 2 and 3 per cents over 2004 and 2000 polls respectively. Congress’ vote share plummeted for the first time despite being in opposition. The reason is the anti-establishment space is now occupied by Congress and BJP and the anti-incumbency vote was split between the two.
In Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, BJD used to poll around 3.5 lakh votes since 1999 LS poll. This elections it polled 3.1 lakh but the Congress which got between 2.5-3.5 lakh earlier could garner only 1.6 lakh as BJP pocketed around 1.4 lakh anti-BJD votes.
In Koraput Congress used to poll around 2.7 to 3.3 lakh votes but in 2009 it could secure only 2.1 lakh as BJP walked away with 1.6 lakh and BSP another 46,000 anti-establishment votes.
In Berhampur, the BJD candidate used to poll around three lakh votes against that of 2.5-3.5 lakh votes by the Congress. But in 2009, BJP secured 79,000 anti-BJD votes and Congress polled only 2.6 lakh whereas BJD successfully retained its share of around 3 lakh votes. But in other constituencies like Kalahandi and Sundergarh the Congress was able to garner the maximum anti-incumbency votes to emerge victorious. The inference is BJP cut into Congress votes rather than BJD’s. It is only in Sambalpur that BJP took away 1.5 lakh votes to spike BJD’s chance.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
http://www.tehelka. com/story_ main41.asp? filename= Ne300509the_ solitary. asp
If the fate of first phase election in Orissa (46% won by BJD) would have been repeated in the second phase election, BJD would not have got majority or might have lost the election in Orissa.
Some of the arguments supplied by Rohini Mohan in the above article seem to be rational but the article fails to explain why people voted overwhelmingly (93% won by BJD & alliance) to BJD & alliance in the second phase election.
The theory put by Hindu Business Line, due to anti-industrial sentiment is illogical (I think).
http://www.thehindu businessline. com/blnus/ 60211160. htm
Because in Kalahandi anti-Vendata protest rarely got any support out side Lanjigarh block except by the affected people, and few groups based in Bhawanipatna (for professional and political reasons). Most of the general public out side Lanjigarh block was never excited or interested to oppose Vedanta, so it was not a political issue as per my knowledge. Similarly, in Kalinga Nagar, Paradeep and Puri, where similar anti-industrial protests were more violent than in Kalahandi or Jharsuguda, BJD received overwhelming response. What about other parts of South and Western Orissa such as Bargarh, Nabarangpur, etc where there were no industrial activities but BJD got poor response? I think this article was just to appease leftist ideology (Note: Hindu is alleged to be a pro-left news paper).
If the article written by Jay Panda Babu (in Indian Express) is believable and the reason of BJD’s success is solely due to Naveen babu and his Govt.’s developmental initiatives & success then there is an internal problem in our state.
http://www.indianex press.com/ news/how- to-be-a-pappu/ 464018/0
In that case, does it mean the growth is either not equal or not reaching properly to western and southern part of Orissa, except Ganjam district (Ganjam can also be classified as costal Orissa rather than Southern Orissa as per geography) where BJD also won overwhelmingly?
I can partly feel it, when I compare the situation in Kalahandi, Nuapada and Balangir regions that I visit sometime, in a/two year intervals, whether these are main roads, bridges, educational institutions where state Govt. has more role to play (unlike the case of railways), the situations are similar as before. The conditions of main roads are as it used to be 20 years ago, only exceptions are few village roads through PMGSY. On the other hand these days visiting Bhubaneswar gives pleasant feeling every time to me, honestly, I have not explored many other major roads in costal part of Orissa in regular interval, but my road journey from Bhubaneswar to Puri to Konark to Bhubaneswar and Bhubaneswar to Cuttack also gave me pleasant feelings in 2007, where as Balangir to Bhawanipatna to Nabarangpur on NH201 can be heartening.
Following are some major roads the state Government needs to look again.
(1) Jaipatna (Kalahandi), Moter, Dharamgarh, Keagaon, Sindhekeal (Balangir) to Bongomunda;
(2) Khariar (Nuapada district), Sinapalli, Golamunda, to Brundabahal;
(3) Nabarangpur, Tentulikhunti, Jaipatna, to Thuamul Rampur;
(4) Junagarh, Kalampur, Mukhiguda to Raniguda (Koraput);
(5) Nuapada, Patalganga, Boden, Nilji, to Sinapalli (Nuapada dist)
(6)Umarkote, Jarigram, Gotomunda to Dharamgarh
I request the CM and Jaya babu themselves take a ride on these routes.
My experince was hearting when I travelled from Jaipatna (Kalahandi), Moter, Tarapur, Dharamgarh, Khariar, Bongomunda, Kantabanji, Patnagarh to Balangir in 2006. It seems the conditions of the route remain the same since decade. People from Nilji or Sinapalli region almost spend the whole day to reach Jaipatna.
The unequal growth could be due to either unequal distribution or corruption in the ground level. In both cases it is the role of the state Government to distribute internally within the state and implement it properly in the ground level.
Unfortunately, Naveen babu visits Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput and Kandhamal (KBKK) and other western Orissa region only during election time unless there are serious troubles in the region like Maoists or flood, which rarely occurs in 5 years. In last 5 years he visited Kalahandi 4 times out of which 3 times just before this election (one time for laying foundation stones and other 2 times for election campaigning to two different regions within the district), and first time was an Arial survey during a flood in Aatigaon region. Where as one can find him visiting Ganjam and some other costal Orissa pockets at least once, if not so often, in a year for some kind of inauguration, this or that, in addition to his visits during trouble hours. Such visit does make a difference in the ground level, as it put officials in alert and helps to monitor the progress properly in an interval when the CM is supposed to be good, proactive and honest like him.
This is the right time our intellectuals, political analysts, social scientist, politicians, Chief Minister and the state Government seriously need rethinking on the basis of regional growth in Western and Southern part of Orissa, “if Naveen babu and BJD won this election only due to the development in past years & nothing else, and we dream for a developed and peaceful Orissa, in Naveen babu’s own language, for tomorrow”. Otherwise it will encourage regionalism and divide people internally within Orissa.
Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda
“What’s the secret of Naveen Patnaik’s success?” is the question I’ve been asked innumerable times in the past week, almost always by friends outside Orissa. The Biju Janata Dal’s sweeping victory in the state — more than two-thirds of all MLA and MP seats on its own, not counting the successes of other friendly parties with whom we had seat-sharing arrangements — is all the more eye-catching in light of the national ‘wave’ being mostly in the other direction.
The answer is going to disappoint some political pundits, particularly the armchair analyst variety who make predictions based on an esoteric mix of experience and gut-feel. Many such analysts had said that the BJD was in big trouble after its twelve-year alliance with the BJP ended in March. But anyone who’d bothered to spend a couple of days travelling around the state would have easily gleaned the public mood, which is why no one from Orissa has asked me that question.
The fact is that there is no secret formula. There is, instead, a clean slate, commonsensical approach to politics that would sound rational to the average citizen, but often confounds hardcore politicos. There are three key components of this new approach. First, at the core of it, is a remarkable level of sincerity and dedication. For a man who till the age of 50 spent lots of time in the rarefied social circles of New York, London and the south of France, Naveen Patnaik has not travelled abroad in more than a decade. And he rarely sees his personal home in Delhi either, only visiting the city a few times a year for official engagements. This monk-like total immersion in Orissa does not go unnoticed by the public.
The second is a deep commitment to good governance. This goes far beyond lip service, and includes numerous instances of risky decisions. That is, risky by the standards of conventional wisdom, but which ultimately turned out to be huge political successes. In the early days, every time key cabinet colleagues were dismissed for corruption, or well-connected businessmen were arrested for criminal intimidation, there were widespread predictions that the government would fall because these actions were “naïve” and “impractical” and that “too many powerful forces were being taken on.” But instead, they resulted in sharp increases in popular support.
Gutsy decisions were taken across the board. The inefficient and corrupt lift irrigation corporation was broken up, unsettling thousands of employees, but it was replaced with the revolutionary pani panchayat system, where lakhs of villagers took responsibility for better management of water. Good governance was not all about taking on entrenched vested interests. Orissa, then broke and deeply indebted, also showed an open mind in quickly adopting the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act and the Value Added Tax (VAT) at a time when many states were opposing them tooth and nail.
One of the most important decisions involved taking on the government of India and the powerful mining lobby. Despite having enormous mineral reserves, Orissa had long been shortchanged by discriminatory central government policies which yielded a pittance in royalties and encouraged downstream investments to be made elsewhere. The state government’s new value addition policy linked the grant of mining leases to investments in the downstream processing plants. This has led to a huge surge of investment: more capital has flowed into Orissa in the past five years than in the previous fifty-five! The subsequent surge in state revenues has enabled many pro-poor policies.
The third component is diligent homework and a clinical, dispassionate, political decision-making process. This may sound obvious to the lay person, but is still not common in political parties. Take candidate selection, for instance. In the absence of US-style primaries, most parties even today still choose candidates by a complex process that involves intrigue, lobbying, drama, sabotage, subterranean tests of loyalty, unverifiable caste arithmetic, and even kickbacks. That often leads to sub-optimal choices. In Orissa, a quick glance at both BJP and Congress candidates reveal some breathtakingly unsuitable names who never stood a ghost of a chance.
Almost from the day the BJD was formed, and perhaps because its founder was unfamiliar with politics in the beginning, the party has relied on extensive surveys, opinion polls, exit polls, etc. These have never been devised to advertise the party’s strength, but rather to assess the ground realities and highlight weaknesses. They have always been conducted by highly rated external agencies, but quietly and only for internal party use. When it came to candidate selection, the strict criterion of winnability was applied to all, and no amount of lobbying or political clout made any difference.
All the above are easy to preach, but very, very hard to practice. Only in retrospect, after twelve years, does it all fit into a big picture, but every step of the way was just one piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle and every decision was fraught with uncertainty and risk. Naveen Patnaik, “Pappu” to his childhood friends, has had to walk a tightrope for years in order to lead his party to this hat-trick victory. In the words of a well-known television personality and columnist, taking liberties with a popular song, Pappu can dance, saala !
The writer is a BJD MP.