BY BISWARAJ PATNAIK IN PURI, JULY 19, 2017 : Odisha chief minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik did declare support to the NDA candidate for President of India only because the UPA people could not come up with a name in time. Besides, the NDA coalition had backed Naveen’s choice of late PA Sangma who was pitted against Panasonic Mukerjee in 2012.

By the time Meira Kumar’s name came up, the irreversible decision had been taken by Naveen. But when the candidates for vice president were declared at the same time, Naveen had the opportunity to gauge quality and reliability. In the best spirit of a democratic nation like India, non-political and non-partisan dignitaries are considered most desirable and fittest to become President of a great country like India. The same spirit and principle applies for Rajya Sabha members too.

But in India, the horrifically politicised self-styled statesmen do their best to place politicians in the highest posts craving for politically neutral and ethically spotless characters. Meira Kumar a former diplomat became a politician later. Lawyer Ramnath Kovind, a staunch Hindu and ‘RSS preacher’ was rewarded with political postings by being nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Both were projected as Dalits to the utter confusion of headless law makers across the country who have no ideology or ethics to choose their person.

Party High Commands decide who is to be chosen, not the individual law makers by their personal likes. Naveen Patnaik keeps his outfit safe in the hands of a few knowledgeable bureaucrats who are thorough with systems and procedures on the basis of ‘rule of law’.

Since the majority of elected politicians, by and large ignorant of most fundamentals of statecraft, do grab votes only by playing friend or making populist promises to the gullible, naive voters, Naveen does not trust their stand on critical issues.

Sharp, aggressively development–literate are the ones to keep him updated on all matters tell him what is tenable in the eyes of law and guide him to quality decisions by placing before him all lawful options.

Hence the popular criticism by opponents and detractors that Naveen does not want to learn Odia and worry about the development of Odisha; he does not mingle around with the common masses because he is callous and indifferent. The power-politicians have been grumbling from the day one that they are only rubber steps and the bureaucrats are the real masters. But not a single man or lady has abandoned him in fear of being lost in oblivion for ever. They know too well that Naveen alone has the magical ‘star power’ to attract popular votes and without him they would land in garbage yards to rot as unusable biomass.

Ramnath Kovind is of course the President already. The numbers are in his favour. But when Naveen chose old time friend Gopal Krishna Gandhi for Vice President, quite a few sections of educated society had reasons to rejoice.

Gopal has been an IAS officer, a career diplomat and a highly respected Governor. He is Mahatma Gandhi’s son Devadas Gandhi’s son. His mother was C. Rajagopalachari’s daughter Laxmi. Illustrious Rajmohan Gandhi, and the late Ramchandra Gandhi are his elder siblings. Hence his pedigree and lineage are exceptionally impressive and his education and exposure are of the highest class.

Apart from all the noteworthy credentials, Gopal is also known for his civil courage. While delivering the 15th D P Kohli Memorial Lecture for CBI on “Eclipse at Noon: Shadows Over India’s Conscience” with nearly 3000 officers of the agency in the audience, Gandhi noted that ‘The CBI is seen as the government’s hatchet, rather than honesty’s ally. It is often called DDT — meaning not the dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane, the colourless, tasteless, odourless insecticide it should be, but the Department of Dirty Tricks.’

In 2015, he wrote a letter to the President of India, Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, to reconsider the rejection of the mercy plea of the 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict, Yakub Memon. He believed the convict deserved life as he had surrendered to cooperate with the Enforcement agencies including the police. He never ran away or absconded and he kept his whole family with him in India.

Venkaiah Naidu is a rare, perfect gentleman among the BJP lot. Both as a student leader and later a political figure, he gained prominence as a brilliant orator, who vigorously championed the cause of the farmers and the development of backward areas. His oratory skills and political activism propelled his political career and he was elected an MLA to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly twice from Udayagiri constituency in Nellore district in 1978 and 1983.

He rose to become one of the most popular leaders of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh and has been held in very high esteemed for being people-friendly, humble and non – controversial. He was BJP president by a clean consensus and managed the party very well by inspiring a sense of solidarity and togetherness.

All the same, he lacks the guts to put his foot down in case Modi or Amit Shah commits grave blunders that affect the society adversely or bring infamy to the country as one run by non-statesmen politicians. Naidu is a very soft–spoken, well meaning law making politician, but hardly does he take stands stubbornly if that’s truly good for the people even when he is part of the executive; party interests take priority over public ones. That’s where he is likely to score lower than Gopal Krishna Gandhi. He will be the third career bureaucrat / diplomat to become VP if he wins after the late KR Narayanan and the incumbent Abdul Ansari.

Interestingly, the salary of the President and the Vice President have been raised three–fold only because the cabinet secretary would draw a bigger salary as recommended by the insane seventh pay commission experts. The President would draw a whopping five lakhs and the VP more than three from the poor citizens’ coffers. Modi the former tea seller who keeps crying for exemplary austerity to be observed at all levels and forums, merrily permitted this sin to be committed.

People would be happy to know that the Vice President has quite a job to perform. He has the authority of:

♦ Sending the bill passed by both houses for reconsideration (Excluding Money Bill and Constitutional Amendment Bill).

♦ Vetoing the bill – Withholding the bill.

♦ Vetoing on State Legislatures’ bill recommended by Governor of the state for Presidential Consideration.

♦ Appointing the New Prime Minister in case of death of the PM in office or in case of hung Parliament.

Withholding the Promulgation of the Ordinance if he is of the feeling that the ordinance is of bad faith or affecting the national interest. He can seek advice from the Supreme court to act upon his discretion when PM or any Minister loses the ‘No Confidence Motion’, its up to his discretion to dissolve the Lower house or to look in to the alternative government farming while life of Lok Sabha is intact.

Discharging the functions of the President during the temporary absence of the President due to illness or any other cause due to which the President is unable to carry out his functions.
Acting as the President, in case of any vacancy in the office of the President by reason of his death, resignation, removal through impeachment or otherwise. The Vice President shall take over the duties of the President until a new President is elected and resumes office.

The Vice President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States.When the Vice President acts as, or discharges the functions of the President, he or she immediately ceases to perform the normal functions of being the Chairman of the Council of States.Many of the Indians may not know that late K R Narayanan was also a Dalit luminary who married Ma Tint Tint a Burmese lady who was named Usha Narayanan later.

All said, it’s of course true that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is keeping safe distance from both the national political outfits. He has his own strength intact and never dependent on any other political patronage or support for a dignified survival. Neither the NDA nor UPA folds can cause him any harm as of now.

Smart that Naveen is, he knows how to run a state with people’s support by persuading them to believe what he is doing is good for all. Only days ago, he raised concern over the alleged encroachment of Odisha Bhawan land at New Delhi by a petrol pump.

In a letter to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Patnaik has urged for restoring the land adjoining the Odisha Bhawan, originally allotted to the Odisha Government but unlawfully leased out to a petrol pump later without even notifying to the state authorities.

The Odisha officials had initiated a number of steps to promote Odia cuisine at the National Capital by putting up a decent ‘Ethnic Odia eatery’ at the Bhawan. But the space earmarked has been stolen by the petroleum guys meanwhile. And there is no remorse expressed once by the Odisha-born, Bihar–sponsored petroleum minister of India. Hopefully the Odia restaurant would be soon inaugurated by Dharmendra Pradhan who keeps screaming that his heart has never stopped crying for the Odia pride and glory.

Lastly just to commemorate the day of man landing on moon this day in 1969.Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had stepped down on to the moon-surface while Michael Collins had carefully kept guarding the spacecraft on the fateful day. For a joke, hardcore Muslims had cried out in dismay that day, “Allah!, the Christians have trampled our deity ! God save mankind.”