By Biswaraj Patnaik in Puri, April 15, 2018: It is evident by now that the BJP force in Odisha is on the downslide. The party president Basant Panda doesn’t know what power he can use to fix things, for in reality, he knows just too well that he is only a low grade rubber stamp who is expected to chorus what the oil minister or other national biggies do say or would love to listen. Kanak Vardhan, the erstwhile king of Patnagarh does not have even an once of steam left in him. He still loves to speak out humbug in what is Hindodia, a tongue he has concocted for himself by amalgating bad Hindi and worse Odia.

Bijay Mahapatra and Dilip Ray have long since written themselves off the brigade governed by the whims of Amit Shah and Modi. Dharmendra Pradhan has been exposed as a puppet in the hands of the two frontline faces. Oil guy has no control over oil management in India. He is trying to rope in this Odisha luminary and that so as to keep the fold in good light given the fact that there is no sign of victory in sight particularly after the crushing victory in Bijepur and other smaller civic elections.

The Kendrapada MP seems to be obsessed with one single objective : defame Karthikeyan Pandian who is a trusted private secretary to the chief minister Naveen Patnaik. The highest level law maker, for sure, having been instigated by a few spineless fellow politicians from own and outside parties, has openly waged a war against the IAS officer who guides the enigmatically popular boss of Odisha administration.

It is indeed a fact that the chief minister has scant regards for most politicians as he believes these creatures, unlike of yore, are conclusively ruthlessly self-serving, wicked and constantly busy designing sinister plans for grabbing or usurping power to display authority and a false aura with the sole view to looting public money by guile and machinations.

This perception was instilled into Naveen by Pyari babu way back when the former was grappling with terrible political situations and trying to cope with strange friends and masquerading foes during the first chief ministerial tenure at the beginning of the new millennium just after the super cyclone had blown away incalculable lives and property from the coastal region of the state. Janaki was virtually thrown out; and subsequently the tribal drummer master Gamanga was dumped by the Congress high command without help or support of any kind.

Around this time, the people of Odisha were desperate to see a clean regime and Naveen Babu was brought in by the crafty BJD biggies believing the showcased Naveen, a novice, would pull votes as ‘Biju son’ and they would run the state as they found fanciful and profitable. As known history would have it, Pyari became the principal guide, but later on, he nurtured such ambitions as are not realistic or attainable, and eventually got ousted.

By this time, Naveen had picked the basic tricks of the trade rightly. He knew too well that he cannot ever remain glued to political issues and affairs on a day to day basis, the way many statesmen politicians do; and therefore by using his own ingenuity and experience, he picked a few truly talented guys from among the administrative pool for helping and guiding him around. One of them is Karthikeyan Pandian, a young one with a wide-ranging exposure, only because he has been taking the extra mile and experimenting a great deal to have the best options in hand for being placed before the chief in a matters of the state with regard to bringing relief to the needy and the distressed communities.

No wonder, any guy with that trust of the boss would generate jealousy among known guys, peers and most certainly worthless politicians. Baijayant Panda, the Kendrapada MP is a born-rich fellow with enviable training and exposure. He owns industrial houses inherited from his father who had become successful only because Naveen’s illustrious father, the legendary Biju Patnaik had backed him up way back in the sixtees of the last century. If Biju babu, as a hugely powerful politician had not stood by Baijayant’s father then, the MP’s vast empire would not have ever come up in the first place, let alone get grand exposure to good life and education.

Most politicians, for being greedy and populist, as explained by late Pyaribabu, Naveen kept them at an arm’s length; and he would only permit one-to-one communication with a very few only when the public perception about the political creature is acceptably good. The Kendrapada MP keeps imagining even today that he is class apart and has to e treated differently from the ordinary bunch. That was never denied but as he slowly, began encroaching upon the forbidden territory of the boss- sensitive decisions that fellow politicians need not know, relations began rotting.

Boss would naturally seek to get his inside info from a very few trusted leaders. Shri Karthikeyan, as the closest functionary, would do the screening and scrutiny job as per the CM desire and place the bare facts so as to enable the boss to take the sanest decision in sensitive matters. This is a very routine phenomenon in all administrative outfits, no matter how small or big is the political territory. Abraham Lincoln did that, Manmohan Singh and Bajpayee too did the same. Trusted bureaucrats are highly educated and very widely exposed to situations to analyse issues and take quick decisions. But THE Kendrapada MP imagined he knew more. So maybe he did not digest some of the overrulings on his designs and moves. The rivalry between the bureaucrat and the lawmaker began thus; and today it has turned into a fiercely bitter battle.

Surreptitiously, the law maker undid all that Naveen did or was keen to do- spreading a certain message or mounting a particular development programed, or for that matter, proscribe what was placed before him by the MP by way of a public good to come in place and so on. The law maker suspected the bureaucrat like an insane being and went berserk lately. What all has happened meanwhile is fresh in the public memory. The mischief by the MP went so terrible that he had to be suspended from the party. By now every one had come to know that Baijayant had struck deals with the saffron brigade of Odisha, particularly with the promised support of the Odisha-born oil minister chosen from Bihar first and lately again from Madhya Pradesh. He unfortunately doesn’t have a constituency in the home state that can send him to the Lok Sabha.

Baijayant Panda is highly educated but seems to have been misinformed and misguided. His once-upon-a-time television channel used to be the most popular and reporting all good things about the government. But now it had turned rabidly anti-BJD. It now is the proxy mouthpiece and projector of the BJP, which is rather strange. He could have sorted things out with Naveen on a personal basis, but chose to declare war, believing the saffron warriors are sure to win ousting the ‘Conch’ regiment. Hence his desperate moves to malign Naveen by falsely bringing infamy to the young administrator who is guiding the boss as a loyal state functionary.

First they planted vainly though, a former District Inspector of Schools who alleged that Karthikeyan had demanded Rs 2 lakh bribe per Scheduled Tribe Sikhya Sahayak applicant for CT training when the bureaucrat was the collector of Ganjam in 2008. Bit the truth is that DI Laxmi Narayan Das was suspended by the Ganjam district administration for extorting money from helpless Sikhya Sahayaks. This DI perhaps has gone into hiding as the truth emerged after rigorous scrutiny.

Just days ago, one Surendra Panigrahi of Bharat Vikash Parishad has filed a PIL alleging that Karthikeyan’s sister one Leena Joseph of Andhra Pradesh has been given the contract for supplying food under the ‘Aahar’ scheme in seventeen diarists of Odisha and school mid day meals in three. There was no tender for the beat at lowest bidding because Leena, a Christian woman was to be favoured. She was given a huge house to run her kitchen and workshop free. A minimum rent of fifty thousand rupees was not charged at all. So in eight years the state has lost forty eight lakh rupees. Her outfit called ‘Manna trust’ has gained immensely because Karthikeyan was keen to get her undue benefits.

The truth is that there was no MDM activity in Behrampur for a decade or so. Children stayed hungry because in urban areas kitchen and firewood problems are acute unlike in Puri, Bhubaneswar or Cuttack where big operators like Akshaya Patra are active with support from CSR funding of Infosys and other big corporates. For Berhampur, ‘Nandi’ the MDM outfit was supported by the CSR arm of Dr Reddy’s lab was motivated to sponsor the mid day meal programme after so many years of children going hungry. It is also cosponsored by Vedanta and the Tatas. Further, CSR wings of big corporates including Mahendra and Ahluwalia et al came by. They have their known professional outfits who do quality job of serving healthy, tasty food served while steaming hot. Mahendra and Ahluwalia family heads run the Nandi trust board and they have their own ways of choosing the best delivery agencies.

Though, no one was available to respond to queries, thorough enquiry revealed that Karthikeyan is a pure Hindu and Leena Joseph a staunch Christian. So if only national integration and communal harmony are the objectives, the two may be treated as a social brother–sister duo. But for certain, India is not so secular as yet to name siblings so wildely- one Hindu, the other Christian.

The Karthikeyan adversaries better be prudent in their strategies or else, twenty seats would be difficult, let alone one hundred and twenty.

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