As an Odia person, it is appalling to witness ‘development’ stall in the state, while our neighbouring states become more successful. We have settled with being called one of the least-developed states, for years, and it appears that our elected government would like to keep it this way.
Furthermore, Odisha politics has stooped to a new low, and appears to have actively victimised a leader with a mandate for development. On May 30, 2017, eggs were hurled at Jay Panda, an MP for 17 years, by party workers, for inaugurating a water tank in his own constituency. The tank was built from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) fund – a fund that had been allotted to the MP for purposes like this.
From his Twitter feed, it appears that Panda was aware of this hooliganism. Therefore, despite this threat, he announced that he would stand his ground. Once he reached the site of the water tank, Panda was attacked with stones, slippers and eggs, in an incident alleged to have been orchestrated by the local MLA and his supporters, because he was not invited for the inauguration. Nonetheless, Panda inaugurated the water tank and proudly stated on social media that neither eggs nor bullets could have deterred him from keeping his commitment to his people.
This incident is not just about the crucifixion of a good leader, but is also an attack on good politics and the ‘development’ mandate. The rift between the local BJD government and their own MP apparently started on account of Panda’s candid proclamation that there was a need for introspection within the party. Any government that has been in power for more than four consecutive terms tends to become complacent. In such a case, there is absolutely nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade.
As a voter, I believe that I should be given an option to elect people who are able and willing to serve our state for the greater good. We should not have a government which punishes candour and honesty by removing the person from an official position. Is sweeping a strong man’s voice under the carpet the way we want to function in a democracy?
For years, the long-serving chief minister (CM), Naveen Patnaik, has been unwell and has been travelling for his treatment. Therefore, it is an issue of concern to understand who our next leader would be. It appears as if the spineless BJD government is spooked by the growing popularity of the infallible image of Mr Panda among the masses. The issues of hooliganism and filthy politics are not just limited to my Odisha. In fact, it has spread like gangrene across the whole country.
Our political representatives should concentrate more on developing their constituencies, rather than focussing on political posturing. Shifting the narrative towards development and prosperity should be our duty as citizens.
More importantly, we must reward leaders like Mr Panda for their honesty, rather than unjustly punishing them. It is our duty to ensure that goons don’t hold our country’s ‘development’ hostage to their personal agendas.