Prasant Kumar Pradhan
Bhubaneswar: At 7 O’clock in the evening of the 22nd December Naveen Pattnaik the Chief Minister of Odisha appeared before the Media and made the statement “I dismiss Dr. Damodar Rout from the cabinet of Ministers.”. He pronounced the verdict straight and cool. Nothing amiss that he was known for 3 or 4 years back since he actually called the shot in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in 2001.
In the last three or four years there was a narrative developing that some elements of hesitation is creeping into his attitude while dealing with issues in his party. With the action of Friday, critics acknowledge, Naveen has reaffirmed his authority.
Dr.Damodar Rout is one among the senior most leaders in BJD. With five straight election wins under his belt and loads of executive positions in Government and in party he really has a powerful profile for any disciplinary action to be dared. Of course he has met action twice earlier still he politically weighs heavy enough. No less guts did Naveen have needed to remove Damaodar Rout now than he had while he did that to Bijay Mohapatra, Dillip Ray and those whole lot of heavy weights through his regime.
But in the duration after the 2014 election, that is in his fourth term as the CM some persons went on enjoying quite a good lease of life in his cabinet bearing allegations those by Naveen’s set standard were too heavy to get away with. Be it Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Arun Sahu or Debi Mishra. He uncharacteristically stood by Pravat Biswal when the CBI apprehended him. All these wove a narrative around that Naveen Pattnak is missing his sheen. On this backdrop Naveen Pattnaik took action against Damodar Rout now.
Naveen Patnaik in his statement has made it clear that Damodar Rout’s casteist reamrk fetched him the sack order. In a public rally Dr. Rout had disparaged the Brahmin community. But, this of course could not be the single spectrum of charge for action. In the last few months he had a band of these. He had passed comments against sensitive section of the society like women and farmers. In the upcoming Bijepur by-election Damodar Rout with his deemed farmer-apathetic responds is not a no-risk element for Naveen’s prospect there. Some of his statements regarding government operations had provided fodder of controversy for the opposition.Yet there was no conspicuous pressure on Naveen from outside to remove Dr. Rout. It probably could be Naveen’s internal assessment of the developments in the political ambit that led him think no more of Damodar Rout.