Update: The media coverage of the insult and its reaction is being archived at http://upainsults.orissalinks.com/.

When Manmohan Singh became the PM of India in 2004 one of the first things his government did was shift an announced for National Institute of Sciences (NIS) in Bhubaneswar to Kolkata and when Orissa MPs discussed with him about Orissa’ development he is reported to have replied "Money does not grow in trees." It took Orissa-wide demonstrations and a supreme court case for Dr. Singh to make amends and declare the establishment of a National Institute of Science Education and Research in Bhubaneswar. In 2004 he humiliated Orissa by not having a single minister from Orissa. Eventually he added a minister of state from Orissa. Somewhat similar to the NIS case, Dr. Singh’s 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, the PM  included Orissa as one of the locations of a new IIT.

Fast forward to 2009 and now Congress gets 6 Lok Sabha MPs from Orissa, 4 more than what it had in 2004. Among the 6 MPs is an ex-chief minister and a tribal (Hemanada Biswal)  who beat the national vice president of BJP in winning his seat, an ex-cabinet minister of parliamentary affairs and tourism, (Srikant Jena), an ex-minister of state of Railways (Bhakta Das), an ex state minister (Amarnath Pradhan), and two young MPs (one of them a tribal).

It is the PM’s prerogative to chose his team and there is no requirement that there has to be ministers from each state. After all these ministers are supposed to be ministers of all of India and it should not matter  where they come from or what their caste is; all that should matter is that they are qualified and they have the PM’s confidence. So objectively one shouldn’t have a problem that he has chosen only one minister of state from Orissa and chosen 3 cabinet ministers and one minister of state from Karnataka, where it got 6 MPs, the same number as Orissa. But the insult to Orissa comes from his demotion to the minister he chose from Orissa. He has picked as a minister of state, not even with independent charge,  Mr. Srikant Jena, who was earlier a cabinet minister  of India and had Parliamentary affairs and tourism as part of his portfolio. If Dr. Singh did not have confidence in Mr. Jena he need not have picked him. But what is he trying to convey by picking him and giving him a demoted position other than showing his and his party’s continued dislike and insulting attitude towards Orissa.

Dr. Singh: You have won the mandate and I guess like your earlier insult to Orissa when you were reported to have said "Money does not grow in trees", you can do whatever you like. But India is watching and they can see how you continue to insult a state and its people. People of Orissa, including those who recently voted for Congress, are fast losing faith on you and are dreading the next five years, where your ministers will take their booties to their home state.

This is not suppose to happen; your ministers are supposed to look after the whole country and not their own state; but based on the past 5 years, where your ministers have focused less on India as a whole and more on their own states, India’s poorer states, with little representation in your ministry are going to get poorer. For introspection, you may look at your past Railway minister’s boasting about what he did for his home state and compare it with states like Orissa from where it got the most revenue, and what you and your past HRD minister have done for higher education and science and technology for your respective home states.

As per Orissa, it seems like humiliating Orissa is your favorite sport or perhaps your lucky charm, as you seem to be again starting your innings with that.


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