There is a saying, "A week is a long time in politics'. But in Odisha, even a decade is not so. From 2011 to 2021, the ruling party ministers saw themselves getting embroiled in sex and murder mystery plots around women in the State.
From Pipili in the east to Mahalinga in the west, the plot of sexual atrocity on young girls, murder and ministers keeps hogging the State canvas.
In the year 2011, a dalit girl in Pipili was found in a semi-nude and unconscious state near her house. The family members had alleged gang rape and an attempt on her life. The local police didn't register a case.
The police registered an FIR on January 9, 2012, after the State Human Rights Commission intervened.
The State plunged into political turmoil with the Opposition baying for the then Agriculture Minister late Pradeep Maharathy's blood, as he had been the legislator of Pipili and the accused were allegedly having close acquaintance with the Minister.
A 24-year old lady teacher, Mamita Meher, had gone missing on October 8. The family filed a missing complaint with a clear finger pointing at Gobind Sahu, President of the Mahalinga Sunshine English medium High School Managing Committee, on the day itself.
But police detained Sahu on October 13 at police barracks in Titlagarh. Barracks are rest sheds for cops in police lines.
The matter attains notoriety when the 'detained' Sahu made a dramatic escape on October 18. The date of detaining and escape (around 5-days) raises eyebrows.
The act of declaring Sahu the 'most wanted' with a bounty of Rs 20,000 first and then Rs 1 lakh on his head adds more to the plot.
The police action gathered steam on October 19 and 20 only after the family of the 'deceased' school teacher cried foul about political interference, casting serious aspersions on MoS (Home) Captain Divyashankar Mishra.
The police swift action/inaction in such sensitive cases where a missing complaint of a woman has been filed tells a tale.
As per the Supreme Court, a missing complaint of a woman needs to be considered as abduction till it is proved otherwise. The SC direction implies the gravity of such cases, which stands in stark contrast to the reluctance shown during the initial police response in the State in such cases.
As a well-known American journalist, Hunter Thompson, had said "Politics is the art of controlling your environment", does this hint at the loosening of the iron-like grip of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the party ranks and his men?
The above hunch is so because, in the last year of CM Naveen Patnaik's fifth year tenure, serious charges of nexus between ministers and criminals have been alleged.
From Nayagarh's Pari kidnap and murder, murder of BJP leader in Mahanga to the killing of Mamita Meher in Kalahandi, strings have been tied to with three prominent ministers - Agriculture and Higher Edu Minister Arun Sahoo, Law Minister Pratap Jena and MoS (Home) Dibyashankar Mishra.
Naveen Show: 2000 Vs 2021
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is known for securing resignations of as many as 10 ministers during his first tenure (2000-04) at the helm. During his second tenure, CM Naveen showed the way to three ministers in four years.
Naveen, who lived many years in the US, seems to have taken the saying of well-known journalist Thompson seriously. The CM's weapon then was 'zero tolerance' to crime and corruption. By rolling the heads, the CM seems to have had held his head high.
But the repeated act of alleged criminal-politician link in the fifth tenure of CM Patnaik, there seems to have been no metamorphosis of governance in the State, notwithstanding the implementation of holier-than-thou 5T governance.
Why A Shift?
Political observers attribute reasons behind the paradigm shift in Naveen's trademark style of governance - where on the slightest murmur of an allegation, the CM stick to the principle of Ceaser's wife should be above suspicion. They list out the following reasons.
- Has the complacency taken CM Naveen and BJD in the grip of being unchallenged for over two decades?
- Is CM Naveen and BJD taking the voters for granted now?
- Is the decentralisation of political and governance apparatus of late in Naveen's fourth and fifth tenure behind the loosening of the grip?
- Is it due to the emergence of coterie governance of late in BJD?
All eyes are on CM Patnaik, will he call spade a spade soon?