The State Executive Meet held by the Odisha BJP at Cuttack last week had its share of bouquets and brickbats. Enthused party functionaries were impatient to hear the leaders, most of whom were playing a hide and seek game. Senior party leaders Bishwabhusan Harichandan, Dharmendra Pradhan, Samir Dey, KV Singhdeo, Bijay Mahapatra and Manmohan Samal made cameo appearances on the first day. They did the disappearing act the next two days. The divide on the party was so apparent that it compelled the state-in-charge Santosh Gangwar to announce from the stage that all was well between State President Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan. Party MP Rudra Narayan Pani cited that the BJD had ensured the defeat of both him and Dharmendra Pradhan in the last elections by sending a jeep loads of cash to their respective constituencies. This remark did not go well with a prominent young turk of the party, who put a question on why the party lost its other seats. The sitting MLA Jai Narayan Mishra was the prominent backbencher and gave his cryptic quips. It seems that the party cannot shake away the sins of the past and the drubbing it received at the last hustings has left permanent scars. However, state president Jual Oram said that everything is under control.
At The Lords Feet
The wise man of the BJD, Pyari Babu, has finally been forced to eat humble pie. He rendered a confused unconditional apology for his remarks on the free entry for all into the Jagannath Temple at Puri. This had raised the hackles of many of the Jagannath devotees, although there was a sizeable share of supporters for the cause. The talk shown in the local channels were chock-a-block full of nay sayers and free thinkers. Pyari babu’s foot in the mouth disease has come to the fore very often in recent times.
This time he had to face the ire of many of his own Party men, and it is rumoured that the Chief Minister himself advised him to offer an apology. Jagannath has been the Holy Grail for most of the political parties of the state, but the BJD seems to have its cup of woes full. The wheel eyed Lord has been dragged into the political mire with the Vedanta land grab, Jagdish Tytler’s visit to the temple, the attack on the Pandas during the Rath Yatra and finally the free for all comment by the Party’s de facto supremo. The wheel of the Lord grinds slow, but it grinds sure. Nemesis may be at hand.
The UPA government earned the repute of having tainted ministers in its first term. In its second term it is appointing the advisors who are already in dispute. The recent example is of Aziz Berny. A journalist-cum-writer Aziz Berny is appointed as an adviser to Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. He will advise the minister on proposed reforms in curriculum. It is noteworthy that Aziz Berny is the same person who was in dispute about writing a book blaming RSS about the 26/11 Mumbai attack. After objections and demand for proof, he was forced to apologise publicly and then he had withdrawn his book too. Vinayak Sen, who was in jail for sedition and is out on bail, has been appointed in the planning commission panel for Health Ministry. Similarly, several members of National Advisory Council (NAC) are also in dispute. One wonders as to how such disputed persons have been appointed as advisers in these important ministries.
Newly appointed Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is looking bit more enthusiastic about his new portfolio. Not only has he started touring the rural areas but also started speaking Hindi. While interacting with scribes in his new office, he was speaking in Hindi. Surprised scribes who are used to listening fluent and sophisticated English from the minister, asked about this change, to this the minister replied with a smile that since he was in rural development ministry, he must speak in Hindi.