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Let Us Not Be Naive About Naveen Patnaik

by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj, 9 March 2009

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Mr. Naveen Patnaik, the suave Chief Minister of Orissa, has received the applause of several across the board for having pulled the carpet from under the feet of the BJP and now aligning himself with the Left. This ofcourse, is a smart piece of political opportunism, but in order to actually shed his spots, Patnaik has to come clean on several counts.

  • Why did he allow first the Muslims and then the Christians, to be soft targets for Hindu extremism in Orissa ?
  • Why did he not reign in goons of the Sangh Parivar when they very strategically disrupted Christian lives and events in 2007 and created mayhem for the Christians for a good part of 2008 ?
  • Why did he not have the courage to contain Togadia and his ilk when they spewed venom all across the State against the Christians ? (He could have easily have emulated several other Chief Ministers of other States who easily put a halt to Togadia’s vicious march in their States)
  • Why did he not ensure the safety and security of the Christians of Kandhamal District when thousands were languishing in the forests ?
  • Why has he not guaranteed the safe return of those who have been dispossessed of their houses and lands from Kandhamal District ?
  • Can he oversee a complete and just compensation package to the victims of the violence in Orissa ?
  • Thousands of minorities, very specially Christians, have been disenfranchised in Orissa. Will he come out with a very honest political decision to ensure that their names are on the Electoral Rolls and that they are able to exercise their franchise in an environment which is free and fair?

Naveen Patnaik will have to answer and act on these and several other questions immediately.

There is tremendous pressure on him, we know, from the Western world; and being “a true Westerner”, he really would not want to go into oblivion and be treated as an international political “Pariah” the way Narendra Modi is treated just now. Given his situation, the best thing he could have done, was to distance himself from his political masters and mentors, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.

Leopards really do not change their spots; but the age of miracles is also not dead !!!

Naveen Patnaik definitely needs to be given a chance but until such time, we should not be naïve...

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)