Launching the Mamata scheme, which promises to transfer cash directly into the accounts of pregnant mothers, chief minister Naveen Patnaik last week interacted with some beneficiaries in the districts through videoconferencing from the state
However, Naveen soon found the going tough given the limitations of his spoken Oriya and asked women and child welfare minister Anjali Behera to take over.
The minister sprang a pleasant surprise on the chief minister by asking one group of beneficiaries in Ganjam to greet him with the traditional Oriya hulhuli (sacred ululation). Naveen was the first to clap as the women on the screen began the chorus and then the entire conference hall burst out clapping.
Addressing the zonal council meeting of college principals in Bhubaneswar recently, higher education secretary Chandra Shekhar Kumar expressed concern over teachers going on unauthorised leaves.
However, he hoped they would reform themselves and there would be no need to take punitive action against them.
“I don’t believe in issuing threats or suspending people. In fact, we are against creating a fear psychosis,” said Kumar.
The significance of the remark was not lost on those present as only a few months ago another secretary had triggered panic among school teachers with actions that sparked off a series of controversies.
Kumar apparently does not want to set the cat among the pigeons in a similar way.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is worried about VIP security in the Maoist-affected areas in the wake of BJD legislator Jagbandhu Majhi’s killing in Nowrangpur district recently.
His concern was reflected in the deliberations during last Thursday’s state-level security committee meeting where the security of MPs and legislators from the Maoist-dominated districts was reviewed.
Security of these public representatives is set to be enhanced in the wake of
the meeting but most of them are far from satisfied and continue to blame
the government for taking the threat on their lives lightly.
“Mere assurances are not going to help. The chief minister, who is also the home minister, must make a public statement about what he intends to do in this regard,” said one of them.
Ever since he was dropped from the ministry, the fate of former agriculture minister Damodar Rout has been a
subject of intense political speculation.
Political analysts went to town with their theories when he launched the Biju Vichar Manch, a barely concealed attempt at stoking dissidence within Biju Janata Dal.
Some said it was Rout’s way of blackmailing chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the strategy might work.
Others felt the former minister was pushing his luck.
However, if BJD insiders are to be believed, the chief minister has just chosen to ignore Rout.
“He is being given a long rope. If he is foolish enough he will hang himself,” said a source.
Former Union minister Braja Kishore Tripathy is yet to come to terms with his humiliation at the hands of chief minister Naveen Patnaik who denied him a BJD ticket in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Itching for revenge, he has gone after Naveen with a vengeance which is evident from his dogged pursuit of the Rajya Sabha horsetrading case. Sources close to Tripathy, a former socialist, say that his primary target is chief minister and he will not rest till he has extracted his revenge.
“As far as this case is concerned, Tripathy appears to be even more aggressive than Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey, who is the other key figure pursing the matter. Tripathy has apparently not forgotten what happened to him on the eve of last Lok Sabha elections,” said an insider.
Biju Janata Dal’s Lok Sabha member from Bhubaneswar, the saffron-robed Prasanna Kumar Patasani, has the gift of the gab. Several times in the past he has talked his way out of a tight situation.
He can also cast a spell with words while delivering public speeches or giving interviews.
The other day, while being interviewed by a private TV channel, Patasani was asked by his interlocutor about his claim of being a “sanyasi” and “yogi” though he happened to be a family man.
The bearded MP, who had perhaps anticipated the query, replied in a flash: “It’s easy to be a yogi sitting in a secluded cave in the far away Himalayas. But I have tried to do that while discharging my duties as a family man, which is extremely difficult.”