The vigilance raid on 29 Corporators in Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) has become a blot on the ruling BJD and the clean image of CM Naveen Patnaik. Relief materials have been seized from the houses of at least four Corporators, triggering a crisis in the tainted CMC. It will be an acid test for the BJD to deal with this volatile situation and win back the trust of common people.
The transfer of CMC Commissioner Nihar Ranjan Mohapatra, suspension of Deputy Commissioner Jaganarayan Kujur and BJD Cuttack Nagar President Madhusudan Sahoo, are seen as an eyewash and efforts to shield some influential leaders without whose consent the Corporators won’t dare to loot the relief materials meant for cyclone-affected people.
If this is the situation in Cuttack, one can just imagine the status of relief operations in rural areas of Ganjam, Puri, Khordha, Nayagarh, Cuttack and other parts of the state. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Special Relief Commissioner Pradipta Mohapatra and Dr. Arabinda Padhi, RDC, Central Division are known for their honest and relentless efforts during any crisis situation. They must be devastated and shocked at the behaviour and polluted mindset of some politicians, who have belittled the great work done by the administration during cyclone evacuation and restoration.
Apart from Madusudan Sahoo (Ward No. 22) and Nirupama Hati (Ward No. 1), other Corporators, who are under the scanner, include Chandan Jena (Ward No. 19), Laxmidhar Pradhan (Ward No. 23), Pabitra Kumar Bhuyan (Ward No. 31) and Akshay Kumar Beura (Ward No. 39). Even, some Corporators had allegedly used forged signatures to get relief materials and hoarding them instead of distributing among the needy.
The state government cannot absolve itself by passing the buck to the Corporators. The opposition Congress and BJP have already raked up the issue and asked why ESMA should not be imposed on the Corporators and other political leaders, who are indulged in this heinous loot. Certainly, the BJD government is on a back foot even if it tries to put up a volt face.
The euphoria over large-scale evacuation is already over. The appreciation and accolade the government had received, is history now. Great that you saved the lives. But, if you fail to feed them and help them rehabilitate with proper accommodation and support for their livelihood, they will languish and suffer, which will be more painful than death.