PCC change of guard: High command indecisive
The Congress party in Odisha seems to have promised for never making any compromise on the leadership matter. One faction of the party, mostly the CLP, is hell bent to oust the present incumbent Prasad Harichandan. Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra does not see eye to eye with the beleaguered party chief, so also is the chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati. An ugly exchange of words between Sura Routray, Prasad’s father-in-law and Bahinipati on the electronics media on the leadership issue has further intensified the internal feud. However all said and done, party vice president Rahul Gandhi is unmoved at the demand for a change of the PCC chief despite several delegations meeting and briefing him about the political situation of the State and the role of the Congress under a weak leadership. Following a recent wash of dirty linen in the public between them, the reaction of Talsara MLA Dr Prafulla Majhi questioning Routray’s status in the party came as a relief to Bahinipati whose position in the State Assembly is also at stake as Naba Das is waiting on the fence for his post with prying eyes. Rahul is perhaps waiting for a direction on the change of the baton to be received from his mother only after which he is likely to arrive at a decision. Meanwhile, the party is set to reach the worst stage of its internal bickering. But then, will it not be too late?
Angul gong beating: Punishment or pleasure?
Police suo motu have registered a case against 52 villagers of Ragudiapada in Angul district who forced Dushmanta Sahu, the husband of a ward member, to go around Badkera Panchayat and beat a gong as a punishment for defying a collective will of the village during the Naib Sarpanch polls. He is alleged to have committed a crime for not voting a person against the wish of the village. The order reflects a feudal mentality of the mediaeval age, unacceptable to the present day civil society. As media exposure of the incident led to police action, though reluctantly; political reaction followed suit with blame game on one another, as usual. BJD spokesman Capt.Dibya Shankar Mishra smelt a rat in Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s reaction when he accused the latter of habitually finding a political angle in each and every incident. The BJP has accused ruling BJD MLA Rajanikanta Singh of complicity in the incident and held Singh accountable for sadistic pleasure borne out of political intolerance. A punishment for defying the whip of the villagers also reflects the intolerance of the politicians who are not happy on BJP turning a corner in the State during the panchayat polls. Sahu was imposed a fine of Rs 50,000, but when he expressed his inability to pay the huge sum, he was asked to pay Rs 5,000 and made to apologize publicly by beating a gong while roaming in all the villages of the panchayat and confess his guilt. The police intervened timely and refrained Sahu from this act asking him to lodge a complaint, but Sahu refused.
Gumdumuha: Burning example of lies by leaders
Politicians cutting across party lines thronged Gumdumuha following the killing of five tribals by a squad of the Special Operation Group (SOG) and returned with promises of development. A motor friendly road, drinking water and electricity to every household were felt soon after the incident as the minimum basic necessity and work started on a war footing. The Rural Development department constructed a Kutcha road at a cost of Rs 2.38 crore and after the recent showers, a portion of which has been washed away and the rest has turned into a muddy slippery stretch forcing the villagers to walk for 11 km to reach the main road, let alone an ambulance to reach the village in emergency. Four hand pumps have been installed in the village and to provide water to every household a project has been planned and tender floated, says the Assistant Engineer of the RWSS. A couple of months back, 44 families in the village were provided power connection but the households rarely get electricity due to low voltage problem. A year after the tragedy, people of Gumdumuha feel no better as they still crave for road connectivity, electricity and drinking water among other minimum requirements. Amidst such sufferings in the nook and corner of the State, Government’s claim for its quantum leap in development with sharpest drop in rural poverty in the country is not only a blatant lie but also misleading.
Cannabis corridor where cops fear to tread
The remote pockets under the Balimela and Chitrakonda police limits have emerged as safe havens for ganja smugglers. With police and Excise officials keeping away in fear of the Maoists rebels, there is a mushroom growth of cannabis plantation, spread over vast tract and the illegal cultivation has assumed an alarming proportion in the interior area. The Excise sleuths and police officials have seized over thousand quintals of ganja during the last two years. Local businessmen are investing heavily on ganja cultivation for easy money. It has become a lucrative source of income because demand for the contraband is on the rise in other States, particularly in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as well as the twin city of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Smugglers from these neighbouring States have been encouraging tribals to cultivate cannabis in vast tract of fertile valley by pumping huge amount of money into it. But the inaccessible terrain and Maoist threat are the major hurdles before the Excise sleuths and police for checking the menace. As such, smuggling of the contraband where Maoists dictate terms goes undetected. Smugglers procure most of the ganja from Chitrakonda, Nilapani, Nakamundi, Dyke-III and other interior pockets of the district.
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