Op-Ed: Scams Only A Blurred Memory

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Ironical as it may seem neither chit fund nor the mining scam has emerged as a major issue in these elections in Odisha where the last phase voting will take place on April 29. Only BJP leaders have been talking about these scams but people in general seem indifferent to them.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) denied tickets to leaders like outgoing Mayurbhanj MP, Ramchandra Hansdah and former MLAs, Pravat Tripathy and Pravat Biswal apparently because they had spent time in jail in connection with the chit fund scam. The party leadership apparently feared a public backlash in the event of their re-nomination.

The BJD need not have worried on this account. In any case it gave tickets to the sons of Tripathy and Biswal whose performance will almost solely depend upon the influence of their fathers. For all practical purposes their parents are in the contest by proxy.

Public memory in India is notoriously short. People quickly forget important issues including scams and disasters unless, of course, they have themselves been victims. Since the mining scam did not directly impact the common people it is now a thing of past. It is also unlikely to have any impact on the polls.

The opposition, too, has failed to make this scam a campaign issue in an effective manner. Honestly speaking this scam is not even being discussed much in districts like Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Sundergarh, some of the largest mineral bearing areas of the state where the scandal had actually unfolded.

Now as far as the common people are concerned both the mining scam and the much-debated Shah commission report are a distant memory. Many may not even be able to recall the Odisha visits of Justice Shah. Instead what is being discussed is how the closure of mines in the wake of the scam has hit employment. The public ire instead of being directed against the scamsters is aimed at the authorities who stopped the operation of mines in many areas.

The wounds of the chit fund scam are, however, fresh for a large number of victims but scattered as they are all over the state they are unlikely to impact the polls in any significant manner in any of the constituencies. They also appear to have been betrayed by some leaders who after a brief dalliance with their cause are now busy feathering their own political nests.

So these investors duped by a slew of dubious chit fund companies as not actually as well organised as they or their leaders claim. More importantly, they are so scattered that even if they vote en bloc they can’t impact the fortunes of any candidate in any single constituency in any part of the state. That is the tragedy.

Unfortunately for them politicians as a class have only been paying lip service to their cause. They are most interested in votes than actually addressing their problems. The wait for getting their hard earned money back is then likely to get longer for these hapless investors.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)