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Wrong use of Biju Patnaik's name by BJD Leaders initiates debate on Web
"BJD leaders including those who hold responsible positions in the party are engaged in dropping the name of Biju Patnaik unreasonably and unnecessarily too much. They link Biju Babu’s name with all projects that, they believe, are the icons of industrialization and development. They never go by the realities in most of the industrial townships - be it Rourkela or Sunabeda or Damanjodi - but tell lots of hypothetical stories."
Basudev Mahapatra : August 3, 2008
It's after IAS-turned politcian Mr Pyari Mohan Mahapatra made a statement in public that all the credit of the Rourkela Steel Plant would go to Biju babu and none else, a debate has been initiated on the web involving noted intellectuals of Orissa to share their views based upon personal experiences.
Many would think this is all useless to discuss whether Biju Babu truly contributed to the Rourkela Steel Plant Project. But we found it relevant to publish because people of the state, who admire Biju Babu, must know how few political leaders are continuously fooling the common mass by dropping the names of great people unnecessarily and unreasonably for mere political benefit.
I have been a strong admirer of Biju Babu since my youth hood and traveled over 100 km by train to see and listen to Biju Babu while addressing public. I still remember the grand meeting where, among many other leaders, VP Singh and Biju Pattnaik addressed the huge gathering and declared launching of the anti-congress coalition 'National Front' in the state. I admired Biju Patnaik as a daring, risk loving and charismatic personality. I do not have in-depth knowledge on Biju Pattnaik’s Political Career. After reading the email communications from some great persons of Orissa, I realized I and the common people still have a lot to know.
Explaining the history of Rourkela steel plant, the first steel plant in the public sector in India, noted economist of the state Prof Nlakantha Rath mentions that 'the plant was decided to be located where it now is, in 1954. At that time Nabakrushna Chaudhury was the Chief Minister of Orissa. The German expert group (the Germans were the collaborators for this steel plant) after examining various sites in different states, submitted a report in which they had listed the various sites in descending order of suitability for the location of the steel plant. The present site of Rourkela in Orissa was at the top'.
'Pandit Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, called a meeting of the Chief Ministers of four states, listed in the report for having the possible sites, in Delhi to present their case for the location of the plant. The Chief Minsters of West Bengal, Bihar and Central Provinces and Berar personally attended the meeting and presented their case. Orissa CM Naba Babu wrote to the PM that his Finance Minister (not Biju Patnaik who was no where in the picture at that time) would present Orissa's case in the meeting, which the Finance Minister did very ably. After the meeting, PM Nehru decided that the Plant should be in Orissa.
Later, Naba Babu resigned from the position of CM and HK Mahatab became CM. Till 1962 mainly coalition governments with the Ganatantra Parishad were formed. Biju Patnaik, who had been in the camp of Mahatab Babu, broke away from him. Congress won the elections in 1962 and Biju Patnaik became Chief Minister. In the mean while, the steel plant had already come up and was functioning. Biju Patnaik had nothing to do with the location of steel plant in Orissa and', as many go by the wrong notion, 'this was not an issue in the 1962 elections’, writes Prof Rath.
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Supporting the statements made by Prof Rath regarding Biju Babu’s contribution to Rourkela Steel Plant, Sandip K Dasverma writes from Richland (USA) that, ‘by the time Biju babu became CM Rourkela Steel Plant was near to full operation. I remember those of us, including myself who graduated with B.Sc. in 1961, were offered appointment as operators of the steel plant, without applying for it. I of course had better opportunities but two of my classmates joined steel plant as such, taking that offer.’
About Biju Pattnaik’s contribution to the development of the state Prof Rath says that ‘construction of the Paradeep port and the Express Highway connecting the mine areas in Keonjhar to that port can be cited to the credit of Biju Patnaik as Chief Minister’.
Adding some more feathers to the Credit of Biju Patnaik Mr. Dasverma states, ‘Biju Pattnayak's first major act of dynamism as CM of Orissa was starting of Regional Engineering College, Rourkela, of which I was a beneficiary. Then came Express Highway, Paradeep Port, medical college at Berhampur, the two Universities at Berhampur and Burla etc.’ However, ‘they soon lost steam due massive corruption charges followed by student agitations of 1964. By that time Biju Patnaik had been replaced by his old friend and comrade in arms Biren Mitra as CM adhering to Kamraj plan’, adds Mr. Dasverma.
The statements based upon the personal experience of two men who lived during peak time of Biju Pattnak’s political career confirm the contribution of late Biju Pattnaik to the development of Industries, Economy, Infrastructure and Education in Orissa quite reasonably. But the BJD leaders including those who hold responsible positions in the party are engaged in dropping the name of Biju Patnaik unreasonably and unnecessarily too much. They link Biju Babu’s name with all projects that, they believe, are the icons of industrialization and development. They never go by the realities in most of the industrial townships – be it Rourkela or Sunabeda or Damanjodi – but tell lots of hypothetical stories. In the aforementioned townships those came up with industries being planned, how many of the affected and local people are benefited? What is the percent of local people engaged and what should be the share of those communities who almost lost everything for the Industries?
These are the issues people want their leaders to discuss and highlight. But, unfortunately, the ruling party members and leaders are more into dropping the name of Biju Pattnaik than talking on the issues and problems of People. It seems, Biju Patnaik’s name has been the spine of BJD and without his name it would soon collapse.
However the political leaders whose speeches revolve around the name of Biju Patnaik should understand if such unreasonably overuse has any way helped promoting Biju Patnaik after his death. The result, as evident from the current debates and discussions on the web, is nothing but terribly dammaging.