Mental shift

Manage your mind and you can manage your life

Violence, floods keep Orissa CM on the edge

Posted by jytmkh on September 27, 2008

DN Singh

Be it a man-made situation or just circumstantial, but Orissa’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, known to be an accomplished survivor through political odds, is now on the edge. He appears to be badly divided between two bads: on one side is the spectre of communal violence in Kandhamal and the very recent being the spurt of an unprecedented flood throwing millions off balance.

On top of that, what must be worrying Patnaik is the undertone of humiliation because of the Centre’s warning to invoke Article 355 and subsequently 356 unless the state government managed to restore harmony in riot-hit Kandhamal. The three consecutive notices from the Union Home Ministry (on September 6, 19 and on 26) are indeed hanging like the Damocle’s sword on Patnaik. It may be a far off possibility for the Centre to invoke Article 356 but the tenor of the notices have not only raised eyebrows nationally, but for the Chief Minister it could generate an atmosphere of negativity hardly six months before the upcoming Assembly polls. What further adds to the worry are the perfidious utterances of people who pose to be the harbingers of religious virtuosity and stoking the sentiments through websites.

At present Kandhamal is back in the news as the last three days were witness to three major incidents in which over 120 houses were burnt and a few prayer houses were torched. Four persons have been killed. What is bothersome is the state government’s decision, so far, to curb the unrest through the might of guns. More than 50 companies of Central and state security forces virtually lay seige to the district, yet the venom of hatred keeps boiling within.

Surprisingly, the CM till the other day appeared non-committal towards a process of dialogue, which was evident from his reply to a question from the scribes the other day that whether he had any plans to take recourse to dialogue for peace in Kandhamal. Patnaik parried the question saying that anyone is welcome to take any such initiative that can restore normalcy there.

However, like gold in the tooth of decay, the Chief Minister now seems ready for the truce and left for Kandhamal in a huff on Saturday last. There comes the poser that why this thought had not occurred to the state government earlier which heavily depends on bureaucratic wisdom. Was it the ‘notice’ from the Union Home Ministry which could create the significant erosion of the siege mentality of the ‘babus’ or electoral compulsion of Naveen Patnaik .

The damage is done and the clear polarization of the vote bank in Kandhamal and in a few adjoining districts, is inevitable. In the name of religion the ground reality cannot be masked. The inherent problems lie in the socio-economic roots. Tricks and tactics of surreptious nature had been played on this vulnerable section for decades and now when there is the backlash we want to styme their moral legitimacy to live through round the clock curfews and some remain confined to the relief camps gasping for breath. (ZEE News)

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