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Scams and scandals – Reverse side of BJD-BJP regime in Orissa

"No doubt, Orissa has made some progress during Naveen’s regime. There has been GDP growth; there has been visible development of rural and urban infrastructure in the state of Orissa; but the state is still lagging behind as the benefits of development have been notoriously hijacked by corrupt leaders and intermediary professionals. The political system is loosing its ethical base in the state. Scams after scams on different reasons and in different places have proved how Naveen Pattnak government suffers from rampant corruption and misuse of power by the members of the ruling BJD-BJP coalition."

Lisa Pradhan : December 24, 2008

Orissa – the resource rich state of India is again the poorest state of the country. This tag is still used by the political leaders of the state to bag votes and rule over the state. But, as it seems, the leadership has never been willfully acted to map the resources, plan for its proper utilization, create an atmosphere to convert the total youth population into a quality human resource and make the benefits of resource utilization reach at the grass root communities.

It was since 60s of last century till 2000, the state underwent a phase of economic stagnancy and was often depended upon central grants and international aids to run. But with the beginning of Naveen Patnaik regime, people started to hope for a change in the situation through dynamic resource planning.

No doubt, Orissa has made some progress during Naveen’s regime. There has been GDP growth; there has been visible development of rural and urban infrastructure in the state of Orissa; but the state is still lagging behind as the benefits of development have been notoriously hijacked by corrupt leaders and intermediary professionals. The political system is loosing its ethical base in the state. Scams after scams on different reasons and in different places have proved how Naveen Pattnak government suffers from rampant corruption and misuse of power by the members of the ruling BJD-BJP coalition.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) -Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition Government, that has been in power since the past eight years, has not succeeded in tackling the increasing poverty and unemployment in the state. Besides increasing crime rates, controversies and scandals have marred the reputation of the ruling government and the parties in the coalition.

The two alleged sex scandals involving influential ministers of the state cabinet has led to serious debates and speculations in the public. The recent controversy over the alleged involvement of senior BJP leader Manmohan Samal in a sex scandal has not only forced him to vacate his ministerial berth, but also affected the image and stand of the Naveen Patnaik Government to a great extent. This issue dominated the first half of the recent winter session of the state Assembly causing repeated embarrassment to the BJD-BJP coalition government.

Even though the minister and the woman in question denied the allegations raised by the opposition party members, neither BJP nor the coalition government in the state could afford to have Samal in the cabinet as the general elections are few months ahead. So Samal who, apart from being the Revenue Minister, was also known as a crisis manager in the coalition had to resign to save the image of the coalition government and his own party as well.

In recent history, the widely condemned Orissa Assembly sex scandal allegedly involving speaker Maheswar Mohanty became a topic of national debate. The allegations came from an assistant lady marshal Gayatri Panda who accused the speaker of ill treating and harassing her sexually. Although no evidences have come up so far even after weeks of inquiry, the Speaker had to step down the chairs immediately after the allegations made by Gayatri Panda.

Even, well known Biju follower and Minister Debashis Nayak was pushed out of the I&PR Ministry under suspicion of his alleged involvement in raising the issue that obviously stained the image of the government and BJD as well.

Few months before the alleged sex scandal involving the Speaker of the house, another member of state cabinet Bishnu Das had to wash his hands off the mass education ministry for misusing his power to increase the scores in his son’s mark sheet. Threads of this score scam are opening up almost everyday till date.

Even though the state has made substantial progress on the economic front, World Bank has made charges of corruption in the development projects including the WB sponsored health system development project that had to be stopped in the state for ill performance and misappropriation of funds. The government has tried its best to fool WB and the people of the state at large by instituting a vigilance investigation and making some officials scapegoats to make the government trouble free. But everything went in vein and now WB urges for a fresh and proper enquiry.

So, along with many good things like growth in GDP, development of rural as well as urban infrastructure, empowerment of women etc. on one side, corruption, scams and scandals dominate the other side of BJP-BJD government. And, every time, Naveen picks up a scapegoat to get rid of any subsequent problem. Even though it seems that Naveen would sail well in the coming general elections, he may have to face lots of hurdles if the trend of scams and scandals continue like this.

(Author is pursuing journalism master's studies at Manipal University, Karnataka. This article is a part of her internship project)

 

 

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