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- Published 7.02.11
● Congressman-turned-BJD MP Pinaki Mishra was fulsome in his praise of chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the recent annual function of DPS, Kalinga. Mishra, who joined the BJD on the eve of the last Lok Sabha election, said Naveen, who has been in the saddle for over 10 years now, had risen so high in public esteem that people have almost forgotten who was the chief minister of the state before him. “And I don’t think anyone is going to replace him in the near future,” added the MP from Puri in the same vein. Even Naveen, who was the chief guest on the occasion, found it hard to suppress a smile.
Look here, please
● State Youth Congress president Pradeep Majhi has been trying hard to keep himself in the limelight. But somehow most of his plans have been going awry. While he was forced to shelve the plans for a youth padyatra across the state to highlight the condition of farmers hit by untimely rains, his recent dharna in the state capital on the same issue was cut short by the administration. Majhi then decided to take chief minister Naveen Patnaik head on and staged a dharna in the latter’s Assembly constituency, Hinjlicut. Sadly, no one took any notice of him even here. Majhi will hope for better luck next time.
Split over dal
● The resignation of women and child development minister Pramila Mallick may further strain the relations between her mentor, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra and her bête noire, Debashish Nayak, who blew the whistle on the dal scam. Mohapatra is said to have backed Mallick to the hilt and continued to maintain till the end she had no role in the scandal. However, the fact that his support could not save Mallick has infuriated Mohapatra whose supporters see Nayak as the villain of the piece. They would be looking for an opportunity to settle scores with him. But this could trigger a fresh bout of factional fights in the ruling Biju Janata Dal.
Better be good
● In spite of chief secretary Bijay Patnaik’s categorical assertion that there is no change in the state government’s stand on the issue of forest rights in the Posco project area, forest department officials are burning the midnight oil to ensure that the final letter of assurance sent to the Union environment and forest ministry on the subject is foolproof. Stacks of old documents pertaining to the forest status of the area are being pulled out, dusted and pored over by anxious officials who are apprehensive of incurring the wrath of the chief minister, who holds the forest portfolio in the event of going wrong anywhere. “With the CM’s prestige at stake, we can’t take chances,” said one of them.
● While the controversy over the expansion of the Calcutta Port Trust area eating into Orissa’s maritime limits is still raging, the state government seems to be sitting back nonchalantly after sending a few letters to the Centre over the issue. Talking to a group of mediapersons the other day, transport minister Sanjiv Sahoo said the government had written to the Union shipping minister listing its objections to the move. However, when a scribe innocently sought to know who was currently holding the shipping portfolio, the minister fumbled. Prodded further he made a brave attempt at jogging his memory but still failed to come up with the name. Poor G.K.Vasan must be blushing scarlet!
● State Congress working president and former Brahmagiri MLA, Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra has managed to keep his following intact in the party despite differences with Pradesh Congress Committee chief K.P. Singhdeo. Support for him within the party was quite visible as he sought to build up pressure on the Naveen Patnaik government over the dal scam. Young Congressmen flocked to him vowing to step up the tempo of the campaign that finally forced the ouster of women and child development minister Pramilla Mallick from the cabinet. Enthused, Mohapatra is now reported to be planning more such campaigns in a bid to consolidate his position in the party which has been wracked by factionalism for the past sometime. “Our leader believes in leading from the front. “He is neither bothered about what others think about him nor does he depend on them for survival,” said a Mohapatra follower.