Archive for the 'Odisha in Elections' Category
Baidyanath Sing is from a poor tribal family of Aswakuti (Hudisahi) village near Similipal of Mayurbhanj district. Since his school days he had to struggle financially for his studies. He got admission to NIT Rourkela in Electrical Engineering. Lacking financial resources, he was supported by his friends for his study. After that he did his M.Tech at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. About his early days, this is what he has to say:
Since from my school days, I struggled for existence, had to work to support my education. After getting admission into Engineering Institute, my friends supported me financially for entire four years as I was in no position to support by my own, nor my parents were. During those days, when I visited my native place, I saw lot many talented students not being able to complete their studies due to poverty, like mine. This moved me so much and forced me to think again and again. This, I realized is not an isolated case and there is a need to look at the bigger picture. From that day onwards, I realized that I have a bigger role to play than any of my friends and thought of doing something for the poor people like me. My determination was multiplied by several other problems such as deforestation by jungle mafias, ignorance of the fellow villagers about their rights and resulting exploitations. I realized that people in here needed somebody to lead them and show them ways to create a better life for themselves and the generation next. Situation demanded that, I spend my valuable asset, my times, as I myself don’t have enough funds to spin on development of my fellow sufferers.
During his days at NIT Rourkela and IISc Bangalore he cultivated friendships with his classmates, juniors, seniors, and alumni working across India and abroad. About this interactions and how it shaped his future agenda this is what he has to say:
During our electronic e-conference all my intellectual troupes suggested insisting upon taking legitimate care of the education from the grass root level. We concluded that we will start with education i.e. we will interact with primary school teachers, guardians by arranging meeting in regular time interval and we will support attractive accessories to kids to attract them so that we can avoid drop out in the primary levels. Then I personally realized that visibility of development would take much time if we will start first with education, in the most deprived area where education is a distant dream, and our effort would be useless. They dearth in living standard and they are not at all in a position to think of education, and mostly they are busy arranging for their per day foods. So, we have to observe their weakest point, through which we can attract them more easily and we can change their mentality to bring them towards the mainstream of developed path. Then I proposed if we can start education and parallel with some income generating activities like agriculture, agricultural related activities, managing locally available natural resources by local people and villagers empowerment porgrammes. then there may be possible in “sustainable rural development” and finally my proposal was accepted by all others.
With those agenda in mind Baidyanath Singh left his job in an IT company in Bangalore and embarked on several projects in and around his villages. In pursuing those projects the procedure he adopted is outlined as follows in his own words.
Step 1: We are having local tribal educated mass, arranging farmers’ awareness programmes in targeted village and forming FSHG (Farmers Self Help Group) and WSHG (Women Self Help Group), which consist of 15 to 20 no of members. In each village there are minimum 5 to 8 no of SHG depends on strength of the targeted village. There is no discrimination in cast, religious, BPL and APL during group formation. Landless villagers are also included in the groups so, that they can take advantage out of it. And we are trying to create competitive mind among the groups.
Step 2: When we are arranging awareness programmes in targeted village we are making survey of
- What are their livelihoods?
- What are their traditional crops?
- Any person in the village doing other crops pattern?
- Any crops they were cultivating previously but they stopped now, if yes when and why?
- After getting all data there will be a mutual discussion with them and they will give proposal what can possible so that everyone can accept it with great interest by which no one will feel as a burden and probability of success for proposed crops should be 100% with any weather conditions so there will be no frustration among the farmers. With this our aim is to attract more and more no of farmers not only that village but also in consecutive villages.
Following are some of the activities that he has been involved in, in and around his village, after he left his job in Mumbai and came back to his village to help develop his village and its surroundings. They are in his own words.
Activities 1: My village Aswakuti (Hudisahi) is located very close to Similipal reserved area. During my B.E. time there was lot of timber business used to happen by Jangle mafia from out side. They were taking advantage of villager’s illiteracy, innocence and poverty. The mafia groups motivated the villagers up to such extend that, instead of traditional farming their hobby became supplying timber. Which became easiest income source in a short time period.
I personally realized that if a thing goes so then just after 5 years there may be vagaries of nature. Then we motivated some people to understand the reality and arranged one meeting in our village and formed one "Jangle Surakhya Committee". This committee formed four groups and each groups was assigned to do duty in jangle once in a week. As a result it hampered mafia and motivated villagers, which became a great problem for our committee. They became our great enemy and we got life threatening from them. At last we took help of our Sarat local forester who supported us. He became our advisor now our village committee is renamed into J.F.M (Joint Forest Management). This JFM is working so effectively that we are also getting financial support from Forest Department. Interesting thing is that now maximum villagers are having Committee.
Activities2: Year 2004-05 we promoted Niger cultivation as an experimental basis in the village of Dangadhia, Khukundu and Paterpada of Thakurmunda block in Mayurbhanj district among the 100 beneficiaries, but seeds were not perfect even though it was a great success for us, farmers accepted it very easily. maximum farmers earned minimum of Rs 3000/- just for four month.
Activities3: Year 2005-06 we distributed same seeds in my sarat area of Kaptipada Block among the three villages named Keshpada, Kadabahali and Kutumundi with four FSHG as a foundation seeds for this area. This activity was so popular for this area and also they earned very god amount. I will feel proud to inform you that this year agriculture department people (Udala ADAO) visited our field and he appreciated it.
Activities 4: Last year’s Niger activity was so popular and year 2006-07 (this year) we distributed 5 quintal Niger seeds which covered more than 100 acars of free land, vegetables seeds, 1 quintal of mustard seeds which has covered more than 20 acars of land and 60 no of vegetable kits from Horticultural department in different villages. I think this Niger project was a biggest activity in whole Mayurbhanj. This years Niger activity was so excellent and attractive. I will be proud to inform you that last 25th Oct. during flowering time we organized one Agricultural Awareness Programme.
Activities 5: This year on 24th Sept. We organized Mathematics Olympiad Test Called Rural Mathematics Talent Search Test (RMTST) for 6th class, which was state level Exam. and supported by Institutes of Mathematics, BBSR and NRO’s USA. Qualified students will be awarded Rs 1500/- per annum for five years and they will be eligible for National level (for national level they will get Rs 1500/- per month) and then for International level.
Activity 6: From this year I became a lifetime member of Foundation for Excellence (FFE) USA based Organization through which we can be able give scholarship to students from BPL/antardoya/arnapurna card holders with good marks in High School, +2, +3, Diploma, Medical (rank within 280) and Engg. (Rank within 2050) from Rs 5000/- to Rs 40,000/-. Per annum until to complete their course. This year I have provided scholarship (Rs 5000/-) to Mr. Manash Mallick from BPL family who has secured 667 marks in HSC-2005, Kumini Prava Panigrahi (Rs 19000/-) who is doing Diploma in Rourkela but yet to come.
Activity 7: From next month we are going to start Masses for Rural Computer Education Institute in Sarat for school and college level students with minimum price. Which is also going to support by NRO’s USA.
Activity 8: We are running one non-formal school for students from class 1 to 5th in my village Aswakuti itself (class timing is 6.30 am to 8.30 am and 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm) this is just a special class and volunteer teachers from village itself, salary for them is donated by parents themselves. This school is running so effectively and we are planning to do in other villages also. Some NRO’s from USA are also going to support these special schools very soon.
He has the following proposals for the near future; again in his own words.
- All activities as mentioned above will be continued in future and multiplied into large scale till turned into sustainable activity.
- As farmers’ interest is multiplying drastically, which is a positive symbol for this area, within next two years we are trying to cover all nine Gram Panchayat, which includes more than 80 villages with more than one lakhs people. Our mission will be to form as many as no of FSHG and WSHG. All groups will make saving account in near by Baitarani Gramyan Bank.
- Last year we encouraged only for Niger, mustard and some area for vegetable cultivation but this year we are preparing to promote mixed horticulture farming which includes Turmeric, Zinger, Sun flower, Sweet Potato, Drumstick, Hybrid Banana, Mango, Amala with very large scale.
- Beneficiaries list is increasing. If these activities go in this way then within very short span of time this area may be able to give huge amount of Agro-product. But main problem is market potential. As per Orissa is concerned Agro-Industries are very rare so agro market potential is not supportive for farmers. Farmers are not getting proper justice for their product, which is tending to create frustration among the farmers.
- According to our vision, if there will be a processing unit just like a Small Scale Agro-Industries (SSAI) in the local area there will no question of mediators in between grass root level farmers and SSAI by which maximum benefits goes towards grass level framers only. Which can influence financial status of farmers directly.
Few weeks back he contemplated getting into electoral politics and run in his constituency. Following is an excerpt from an email he sent to Sandip Dasverma on his thoughts on why he should run and his chances.
… whole area is requiring one good leader for them so I am thinking that I may not be a good leader for them but I will try to be a good leader for them. I am thinking that as election in Orissa is very close and I am thinking to contest from my constituency (KARANJIA) as a MLA …
Since I am a highly qualified tribal guy who has been involved directly with social problems since from long days so, why shouldn’t I enter into politics in order to deliver my capabilities and my dreams for my areas. People of my area love me very much and I have excellent chances to win from my constituency.
Yesterday Baidyanath Sing went to file his nomination for the Karanjia Assembly seat as an independent and we support his candidacy whole heartedly.
Following is a map of the Karanjia constituency. We encourage readers with ties to that area to help Mr. Sing.
Update: KP Singh Deo says that he has not resigned. Other reports quote AICC sources to say that he has threatened to resign 4 times.
Earlier this year the Congress party replaced Jayadev Jena as the PCC leader and installed a 4-member leadership in Orissa.
- K. P. Singh Deo
- Srikant Jena
- Bhakta Charan Das
- Ram Chandra Ulaka
Following is the current status of this four people:
- K P Singh Deo: He wants to run for the Lok Sabha from Dhenkanal and has not been able to get a ticket. Apparently Rahul Gandhi wants the youngster Suparno Satpathy to run from there. The following tathya.in headline says that: " RAHUL GANDHI ASKS K P SINGHDEO TO BE ON GUARD", "K P SINGHDEO SENDS RESIGNATION OUT OF DISGUST"
- Srikant Jena: He has no idea what is happening to him. A Times of India article reports the following: Sources said Congress nominee Srikant Jena is reluctant to contest from Balasore Lok Sabha seat. Jena was earlier interested for the Kendrapada LS seat which was filled up by Ranjib Biswal against which local party cadres have registered their protest. "I don’t know where I am contesting. All that I know is what I read in the newspapers," Jena said referring to media reports that he has been renominated to contest from Bari Assembly seat.
- Bhakta Charan Das: He threatened to resign before he was given the ticket to contest from Kalahandi.
- Ram Chandra Ulaka: He also threatened to resign. An Indian Express article had this to say:
Over the past few days, at least two senior Congress leaders, including chief of Congress Legislature Party Ulaka Ramachandra, have threatened to resign after the high command ignored their demands. Ramachandra’s list of favourite candidates for his home district Rayagada was trashed by the party’s Central Election Committee, which favoured the candidates of former chief minister Giridhar Gomango.
Besides, former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das is unhappy over being denied the Kalahandi Lok Sabha ticket. Even the state Congress president has raised a banner of revolt after names of several of his candidates were struck off and names of relatively fresh faces added by the high command.
There have also been some high profile actual resignations from Congress in Orissa. This includes Taraprasad Bahinipati (leader from Koraput), Pinaki Mishra (leader from Puri) and Rohit Pujari (the then president of Youth Congress of Orissa).
If this is how the Congress leadership treats the leaders from Orissa now, one wonder how the remaining people in Congress, if they win elections and govern Orissa, will be able to stand-up in Delhi and make the case for Orissa.
A researcher in one state government institution in Orissa recently received an invitation to spend a month in a top US university with all expenses paid by the US university. She/He requested permission from the head of his/her institution to take leave and make the trip. The head sent the request (WHY?) to the overseeing department in the secretariat. When the whereabouts of the file was inquired the secretary in charge of that department said that she has just put up the file to the Chief Minister’s office (WHY?). Now the file will probably sit among hundreds of files in the CMO’s office that are waiting for his attention.
This is an example of how even simple stuff are not being decided at lower levels and are being sent all the way up to the CM’s office. In this case, the head of the institution should have just made the decision.
The current Orissa government is at fault for directly or indirectly allowing/encouraging such passing the buck and/or for not empowering decision making at lower levels. Regardless of who wins the election this must change and the new government should encourage and empower decision making at lower levels.
BJP in Orissa does not seem to have any real plans for Orissa; its only goal seems to be to teach a lesson to BJDElections 2009 5 Comments »
The early indication is that BJP in Orissa has really no plans for being in a winning coalition and do something for Orissa. It seems its only goal is to teach a lesson to BJD and hope that there is a hung assembly and that BJD comes crawling back to BJP. If this is the case, then this agenda of BJP (in addition to its alleged communal agenda) must be exposed to the fullest and BJP be made a non-entity in Orissa. (Many of the people in Orissa BJP are good people, and hopefully they will then form a seprate party without the alleged communal agenda of BJP and its Sangh parivaar.)
During the last several years, many of the industrialization projects, such as POSCO, Tata Steel project in Kalinganagar, and even the Vedanta University project were drastically slowed down because of protests organized or led by the communist parties. For political reasons the opposers would not come and properly discuss a give-n-take with the Orissa government. With the BJD-CPI-CPI(M) alliance there is a chance that at least the opposers led by the CPI and CPI-M will join the (hopefully) BJD government in a discussion and will be less rigid in their stand and win-win solutions would be arrived at that will be good for the locals and good for the industrialization of Orissa. In addition if BJD supports UPA at the center then Congress may not create much trouble, and with BJP having very little influence in these regions, these and other projects, including land acquisition for various Railway projects, could proceed faster with changes that will safeguard the interests of the locals.
BJD and alies [1,2] (CPI,CPI-M,NCP)
|BJP [1,2]||Samruddha Orissa||Others|
|Cuttack||Bhartruhari Mahtab||Bibhuti Mishra||Anadi Sahu|
|Braja Tripathy||Krishna Nayak (SP)|
|Balasore||Arun Dey (NCP)||
|Jajpur||Mohan Jena||Amiya Mallik||
|Mayurbhanj||Laxman Tudu||Priyabrata Majhi||Draupadi Murmu||Laxmiswar Chamudia (SP)|
|Surendra Kumar Lath|
|Sundergarh||Salomi Minz (CPI-M)||Hemananda Biswal||Jual Oram|
|Rudra Narayan Pany||Abhinna Hota (SP)|
|Berhampur||Siddhant Mohapatra||Chandrasekhar Sahu||Bharat Paik|
|Koraput||Jayaram Pangi||Giridhar Gomang||Upendra Majhi|
|Bhadrakh||Arjun Sethi||Anant Prasad Sethi||Panchanan Mandal|
|Balangir||Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo||Narasingha Mishra||Sangeeta Singhdeo||Arun Mishra (SP)|
|Bargarh||Hamid Hussain||Sanjay Bhoi||Radharani Panda|
|Keonjhar||Jasobant Laguri||Dhanurjay Sidhu||Ananta Nayak|
|Kendrapada||Baijayant Panda||Ranjib Biswal||Jnanadev Beura|
|Kalahandi||Subas Nayak||Bhakta Ch Das||Bikram Keshari Deo||
Gurmit Singh (BSP)
Parameshwar Panda (SP)
|Aska||Nityanand Pradhan||Rama chandra Ratha||Shanti Devi|
|Jagatsinghpur||Bibhu Prasad Tarei (CPI)||Rabindra Sethi||Baidhar Mallik||Akhaya Sethi||Bibhuti Bhusan Majhi (BSP)|
|Nabarangpur||Dambaru Majhi||Pradeep Majhi||Parsuram Majhi|
|Kandhamal||Rudramadhav Ray||Sujit Padhi||Ashok Sahu||Nakul Nayak (SP)|
Earlier articles in this series:
This is a bit premature as BJD’s complete list of candidates has not come out yet. But my prediction after seeing the first list is that BJD is vulnerable in one main point. As BJD has not picked highly comptent, trusted by the CM and Pyari babu, people at the MLA level, if one asks them the following questions then they will not have the proper answers.
- Who will be your ministers?
- Who will run the ministries?
- Are they competent to run ministries?
- Do Naveen and Pyari trust them to allow them to take decisions?
- Will Naveen and Pyari micromanage everything?
- Or will they let the bureaucrats run the show as during the last 9 years?
- How often ministers were thrown out during the last 9 years? How badly they managed?
In other words there does not seem to be any one running at the MLA level in the BJD outside of Naveen babu one can name and say that this person is clean and super-competent and would be a good minister. Beause the Congress and BJP are much worse options, my vote would still go to BJD but I don’t expect any big change in the Orissa governance; Naveen and Pyari (quarter time; as he is an MP as well as party strategeist) will take the major decisions and the bureaucrats will run the show and since 1-2 people (Naveen and Pyari) can only do so much by themselves many good intentions and plans will not get properly implemented and there will be regular scandals; not the money or bribe kind; but scandals based on expose of incompetency of various ministries. I wish there was another clean, competent and viable option to BJD.
The governing party: The CM has a clean image. He has picked up many causes that need central govt. support and hammered them as issues over and over leading to success with respect to some of the causes. He achieved success in getting approval of the Vijaywada-Ranchi highway, getting NISER, getting an IIT, getting a central university and getting a National University. He has not been as much successful with respect to ad valorem lease rates for minerals, new railway lines as well as speeding up on currently approved Railway lines (e.g., Khurda – Balangir), getting international flights to Bhubaneswar, getting another operational airport in Orissa, etc. Because of his clean image, and perhaps because he does not ask industrialists to pay bribes, he has been able to attract many industrial investments (making Orissa among the top states in India with respect to this parameter); some of them mega-projects. Although some of these investments have gone from paper to real spending of money, many of them, especially the mega ones (such as POSCO), are slow to get off the ground.
However it seems that either all the ministers other than the CM were incompetent or they did not have trust of the CM. We are told, because of this almost all major decisions were taken at the CM’s level and many things were basically run by the bureaucrats. This of course meant that the voice of the people, as represented by the ministers who were elected by the people, were not heard.
I wish the BJD had been proactive in locating some good, honest, young, pro-development highly qualified and highly active in the community people such as Dr. Dhanada Mishra, Prof. Supriti Mishra, Dr. Sruti Mohapatra and mentored them into electoral politics. Such people would be wonderful junior ministers and oversee important programs like primary education (Dhanada’s speciality). Often times good people have to be found, encouraged and helped.
[It is often said, that most people in India are good, nice and hospitable. So if a foreigner is in trouble and he/she randomly knocks a door in India, he/she will get help. However, if someone approaches a foreigner in India then the advise is to stay away from him as his motivation is suspect. The same analogy is often applicable to politics. If someone is desperate to join politics and become an MLA/MP/Minister then his/her intentions may not be that good. On the other hand good people who have shown their goodness and commitment to serve society need to be searched, encouraged and helped to become MLA/MP/Minister as they will really do good to the society.]
I believe the CM and his lieutenants Pyari babu and Baijayanta babu when they say that their focus is development of Orissa. (I have not heard CM Naveen babu taking a vacation during the last nine years; when he goes out of state, its mostly to Delhi and he is back as soon as the state’s business is done; and I think he has not made a foreign trip in the last 9 years. He seems to be fully dedicated to Orissa.) I hope they realize that they can not do everything by themselves and identify, recruit and help good people to get into their party and subsequently to the government.
Perhaps it is too late for this elections, but even now BJD can recruit the kind of people I mention above and rope them to help in the campaign.
Opposition parties -Congress: They have tried to be watch dogs, which they are supposed to do. But often times, they have opposed things, even if they are beneficial to Orissa. They seem to follow the principle of "Cutting of the nose to spite the face." An example of this is the opposition to the Vedanta University.
No one active in Congress in Orissa has the clean image and/or stature of Naveen Patnaik. The Congress high command in New Delhi made a big mistake in not making Mr. Chandrasekhar Sahu, who has a clean image, a cabinet minister. If they had given him a high stature in Delhi, automatically he would have had a high stature in Orissa. Alternatively, they could have roped in Mr. Sam Pitroda, made him elected from Orissa (via Rajya Sabha) and made him a minister and slowly established him as a leader from Orissa. They could have also roped in Mr. Lalit Mansingh, ex-ambassador of India in the USA, who, I was told, was at one time, interested in electoral politics through Congress.
Congress did none of these.
They waited until it was too late and then created a joint leadership of Mr. KP Singh Deo (who has been acting like a king), Mr. Ramchandra Ulaka (nice man; good personal record in election wins; but no base in coastal Orissa), Mr. Srikant Jena (has good smart friends who help him with ideas, arguments and posters, but is the perfect example of practising "Cutting of the nose to spite the face" with no positive ideas so far) and Mr. Bhakta Das (similar as Mr. Jena; good at stopping development; but no positive ideas so far). Then they repeatedly insulted the hard working Youth Congress President Rohit Pujari, who got fed up and quit and joined BJD.
If Congress wants to revive in Orissa, it must create a leader that can match Naveen Patnaik’s stature and also follow the earlier suggestion of identifying good, pro-development, highly qualified and highly active in the community people and recruit them to its fold and help them rise.
Opposition party – BJP: They really have no good leaders in Orissa. As its stands it is a party which maintains close relations with groups such as Bajrang Dal, RSS etc. (generally referred to as the Sangh Parivaar) who are alleged to have been involved in post-Godhra Gujarat pogrom in 2002 [1,2,3,4,5,6,7], killings in Kandhamala last year, and violence and arson in Karnataka. So until they own up to their divisiveness, apologize to the nation, and change track, I hope and pray that not withstanding some excellent and highly competent people they have (such as Arun Jaitely), their dedication towards India, their good ideas, and their good governance in some states, that they do not come to power in Delhi.
[Note that Congress was allegedly involved in the 1984 Sikh riots where it is alleged that more people were butchered by the then Congress associated goons. However, Congress has owned up to its mistakes, apologized to the nation and punished some of the lead perpetrators. **There is some disturbing word that some of the alleged perpretators are being given tickets this time. If this is true, then Congress is also up to no good.**]
In any case, despite a couple of BJP people in Orissa such as Mr. Kharavela Swain, who has been a good parliamentarian, I don’t see much hope for BJP in Orissa. Neither they have good people of stature, nor is their ideology particularly attractive to peaceful people of Orissa.
Opposition party – CPI, CPI-M: They are useful as watch dogs but more often follow the principle of "Cutting of the nose to spite the face." On their own they will hardly win any MP seat and may win a couple of MLA seats. But through their opportunistic alliance they may win an MP seat this time. They have not much hope in Orissa.
Opposition party -Samrudha Orissa: Jatish babu seems sincere in his goal to get Orissa out of its poverty. I wish he had come out and done something for Orissa before going on campaigning and saying his party will do this and that. Why should we believe him? What has he done for Orissa so far?
Other opposition parties: Not worth talking about at this point.
This has two aspects.
- Which party in power in Orissa is good for Orissa?
- Which party in the center is good for Orissa?
My analysis is that for the first part, a strong regional party with a leader of stature is good for Orissa. National parties even make their decisions regarding who will contest from where in Delhi. A national party in power in Orissa will not be able to strongly make a case for Orissa. They can not threaten the government in Delhi even if the same party is in the government. As it stands now they are always afraid to speak up to their leaders lest they lose their privileges. Also the Orissa leaders of the national parties (BJP and Congress) do not have a national stature. However, with coalition governments and alliances to stay, a regional party whether in the coalition in Delhi or not, will be valued. If they are in the coalition, they will be valued because their withdrawal of support may weaken the government, if not bring it down. If they are not in the coalition, they will still be valued, especially if the party has a strong leader, because the government coalition will want to keep the regional party in good humor as they may need them in the future. For example, the UPA government needed SP. They also were attentive to BJD and the Orissa CM. The strong leader part is important as the government coalition can depend on the words of the strong leader of the regional party. Unlike many of the regional parties in the other states, such as Mayavati’s BSP, the focus of the regional parties in Orissa (BJD and Samrudha Orissa) is the development of Orissa, and not the PM’s post in Delhi. Among the two main regional parties in Orissa, BJD and Samrudha Orissa, BJD supremo has a national stature; so much so that some consider him to be a sleeper PM candidate for the third front. (It is great that he has categorically said that he has no interest in that job.) After winning two consecutive 5 year terms, if BJD wins a third term, the stature of Naveen Patnaik will be further enhanced nationally and if he then goes to Delhi with a demand, he will be heard. The weight of his voice during the last couple of years was evident from the approval of the Vijaywada-Ranchi highway, and Orissa being given a NISER, an IIT, a national university and a central university. He still has many unfinished business such as ad valorem mineral royaly, lack of progress on the AIIMS-like institute in Bhubaneswar, Railway in KBK and Kandhamala, etc. With him at the helm, Orissa has the best chance to make progress on those unfinished issues as well as new issues. Thus, in my opinion, in the elections 2009, it is best for Orissa, if the BJD makes the governemnt in Orissa, and has sufficient number of MPs (say 15-16) to consist a crucial block that either the central government depends on directly or as a fall back option for the future.
Now lets move to the second question. Which government in Delhi is best for Orissa?
A somewhat stable government that partially depends or expects to depend on the leading party from Orissa, BJD, is good for Orissa. Stability is important because otherwise policy decisions won’t get implemented properly and in a timely manner. For example, none of the proposed 14 national universities have started yet. The act involving them could not be agreed upon and thus was not presented in the parliament. Thus one has to wait till the next government is formed to act on it. For stability reasons, a Third front government is not good. Moreover, a third front government may lead to PM candidates like Mayavati or Lalu Yadav who do not have a national view and are prone to siphoning off large chunks of the budget to their own states. Thats exactly what Lalu Yadav did with respect to Railway largeese to his home state. While for Orissa, both NDA and UPA, may work, the NDA needs to again lose this election because of the divisive policies and practices of the Sangh Parivaar, especially in Karnataka and Orissa. The alleged violence by Sangh Parivaar members in Karnataka (Bangalore, Mangalore) and Orissa (Kandhamala) are reprehensible and a party (BJP) and a coalition (NDA) that could have connections to such violence is not fit to lead India. That leaves us only UPA. An UPA with Manmohan Singh at the helm, who has been acquainted about Orissa issues during the last 3 years by Naveen Patnaik and Orissa MPs, and that depends on a BJD MP contingent of 15+ MPs will be the best for Orissa and the country.
A month back my impression was that the conventional wisdom was that BJD is going to sweep the elections based on CM Naveen Patnaik’s clean image and Congress party’s lack of an acceptable leader. This was based on BJD’s performance in the municipal elections held in February where it not only did extremely well in Cuttack, but also in Baripada. The CM campaigned hard in all the places. Earlier they also did very well in Bhubaneswar and some other places. In all these places BJD and BJP were not together. They were in a so-called friendly contest. The performance in those elections gave confidence to the BJD leaders that they will do well even if they go it alone. ( One thing they missed was that in those contests BJP was a "friendly" competititor and was not going all out against BJD.) This confidence and BJP’s absurd deamnd of seat allocation close to what they had in the past two elections was the immediate reason BJD decided to split from BJP. But this was in the works for some time. It was obvious when BJD went alone in the municipal elections that they were trying to judge their individual strength and based on that they will decide on the seat allocations. In December 2008 they were ready to split from BJP if it had not called off the Cristmast day strike.
After the split BJP has gone all out villifying BJD, Naveen Patnaik and especially BJD lieutenant Pyari Mohapatra. So this is different from the "friendly" contest that BJD faced from BJP in the municipal elections. The initial charge of BJP that BJD betrayed it does not sound reasonable to me. They used that in Karantaka and it made sense there as it was indeed betrayed by its partners when they did not hand over the CM post as they had agreed before. In case of Orissa, BJP’s charge of betrayal is just noise and does not make any sense. What BJP was doing was not admitting its weakness and was kind of blackmailing BJD to get almost the same number of seats as before. The blackmail was that they were saying that they had X% percent of the vote in earlier elections and if BJD will lose that percentage then they will lose a lot of seats. BJP was also reminding BJD that when Biju Patnaik decided to break his alliance with the communist parties in the ninties it lost the elections to Congress. But in my opinion BJP has way overdone it. BJP is not much popular in Orissa and was basically piggybacking on Naveen’s popularity. Plus it has become quite unpopular because of the alleged involvement of Sangh parivar in the Kandhamal deaths that brought bad name to Orissa all over the world. From being considered one of the most peaceful states in the country, Orissa became associated with the Cristian killings in Kandhamal. Many in Orissa hold the Sangha Parivaar responsible for this worldwide defamation of Orissa. Recently Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray joined BJP. Although this got a lot of press, my thought is that this is not going to have much impact.
The Congress was initially demoralized and the revamping of its state level leadership had initially given it some impetus. But the multiple leaders (KP Singh Deo, Ramchandra Ulaka, Srikant Jena and Bhakta Das) have clashed about their lists of who should stand where and Youth Congress President Rohit Pujari’s resignation and joining BJD is going to further hamper Congress in Orissa.
There is not much to talk about the other parties except that the newfound allies of BJD, such as NCP, CPI and CPI(M) have become lucky. They may win some seats because of BJD not contesting those seats and supporting them. They will help BJD a bit in that their support will reduce the villification of BJD in the media and campaign.
Regardless of all of the above, the halo of BJD and its supremo Naveen Patnaik is much less than what it was during the municipal elections in Cuttack and Baripada. My feeling is that once the dust settles, the candidates are anounced and campaigning begins in earnest, BJD will slowly get back its popularity, may be not 100% but a large part of it. But BJD should not take this as a given and must work hard in getting its message through and in comparing Naveen’s clean image as compared to the other leaders.
In subsequent articles I will write why I think a regional party with a clean leader like Naveen Patnaik, who will have an even bigger stature after winning third time in a row, will be good for Orissa in this elections. My expectation and hope is that BJD will come to power in the state and UPA with BJD’s crucial support will come in power in Delhi. If this happens and Naveen Patnaik makes appropriate demands in a timely manner then Orissa will benefit a lot. However, I may support individual contestants from other parties if they are way better than the other candidates from that constituency. For example, I am leaning to support Mr. Kharabela Swain of BJP for the Balasore seat, because of his performance in bringing up Orissa issues in the last five years in the Lok Sabha.
After the BJD-BJP alliance broke BJP state legislators withdrew their support from the Orissa government. That led to the Governor asking the party in power to seek a confidence motion in the Orissa Legislative Assembly. The party in power did that, but through a voice vote. This led to cries of "murder of democracy" by many opposition leaders. The Governor sought clarifications from the Chief Minister, sought other counsels and went to Delhi to give his report. In other words there was a big broughaha over this issue. The following report from an article in Pioneer lists other such incidences and calls this outrage phoney.
The phoney hullabaloo over voice vote is nothing but a made-up controversy in these election times. There are precedents to show that confidence motions have been passed and no-confidence motions have been rejected by voice vote in the various State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha in the past. Complying with the orders of the Rajasthan Governor to prove his majority, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot won a confidence motion by voice vote on the floor of the Assembly on 3rd January this year. If no-confidence motions can be defeated by voice vote, why can’t the confidence motions be won by voice votes? Four such no-confidence motions were defeated by voice vote in the Lok Sabha itself. A no-confidence motion against Andhra Pradesh’s Congress Government moved by the Telugu Desam party was defeated by voice vote in April 2008. In the same year, a no-confidence motion against the Speaker of the AP Assembly was defeated in a similar fashion. In 2007, a no-confidence motion against the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly was defeated by voice vote too. In March 2003, a no-confidence motion against the UP Chief Minister Mayawati was also rejected by voice vote. Where is the recording of numbers that is being talked about? The cosmetic outrage over Naveen Patnaik winning the confidence motion by voice vote is being carried too far. As for the division of votes, let us see what happened to the no-confidence motion moved by Sonia Gandhi in August 2003 against the NDA Government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After the Speaker declared that the no-confidence motion has been defeated by voice vote, Congress pressed for a division. When the division took place, it was defeated by an overwhelming 126-vote margin. In our case, when the Speaker declared that the confidence motion has been passed by voice vote, Congress and the BJP had already left the House protesting against some of the Speaker’s rulings. Nobody from these parties was left in the House to demand a division.