Mrunal Manmay Dash

Allegations of Odisha being controlled by the bureaucrats are quite old. Reports of bureaucrats snubbing elected representatives are not rare. While the Odisha government vehemently denied the claims, the recent face-off between bureaucrats and MLAs, MPs, particularly in Bolangir district, has once again reignited the issue.

The debate was stoked again after a furious Congress MLA from Kantabanji, Santosh Singh Saluja walked of the Zilla Parishad meeting room on January 12 after yelling at Bolangir Collector, Chanchal Rana.

Saluja alleged that the KBK fund meant for blocks under his Constituency was reduced by the Collector without consultation. Following the face-off, district administration officials wore black badges as a mark of protest against MLA’s misbehaviour with the Collector.

Saluja did not back off. He gathered his supporters and took out a march to the Collectorate where they gheraoed the office demanding an apology from the Collector over the reduction in funds.

The list does not end here. On January 18, another such incident between a government official and a politician hogged headlines.

As per reports, former Minister Kanak Bardhan Singhdeo was involved in a heated argument with Belapada BDO, Victor Soren over his rights to change a Zilla Parishad document.

The latest skirmish was witnessed at the Panchayat Resource Centre in Bolangir where MP, Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo vented her anger at the PD-DRDA, Sushant Kumar Singh over Bolangir Collector’s absence in the Disha meeting.

As per reports, the Disha meeting, as usual, was scheduled to be held at the PD-DRDA conference hall. But later, the venue of the meeting was shifted to the Panchayat Resource Centre. However, the dispute cropped up after Bolangir MP Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo reached the Panchayat Resource Centre for meeting and found the Collector absent.

She fumed at the PD-DRDA who was present at the venue and asked him why he received her instead of the Collector. Later Singh Deo called all the district officials and elected representatives for a review meeting from where a BJD-supported Block Chairman left in the middle alleging misbehaviour by the MP.

Block Chairman of Deogaon alleged, “The MP used some language which were offensive, so we walked out of that meeting.”

However, the MP refuted the use of foul language in the meeting.

So the question arises, why such friction between the legislative and the executive?

Some experts opine excessive fear of the government as main cause.

“There has been an increased communication gap between the bureaucrats and the public representatives. Apart from that, there has been a notion among the officers that they will have to abide by the instructions of the ruling party if they want to climb the ladder of success. So whenever somebody opposes their move, dispute arises,” said, former administrator, Sahadev Sahu.

Asked about the recent arguments between Netas and Babus, ruling BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP, Niranjan Bishi said, “Everything is alright between the Babus and Netas in Bolangir. Minor friction will remain, but that is only because everybody wants the development of Bolangir and Odisha.”

(Reported By Ghateswar Mishra and Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV)