Political blame game continues in Odisha

Political blame game continues in Odisha

Naxals send fresh letter, seeking clarification on atrocities on tribals

While the political mudslinging over an MLA’s abduction continues with the Odisha Opposition criticising the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Maoists on Wednesday sent a fresh letter to media houses  seeking clarifications on alleged atrocities on tribals as well as naxal supporters.

The Congress and BJP, the two principal Opposition parties in the state, have charged the ruling BJD with hobnobbing with the Maoists and their organisations. They said this could have led to the recent kidnapping of Jhina Hikaka, the ruling party MLA from Laxmipur in the tribal-dominated Koraput district.

“The kidnapping has clearly exposed the links between the Maoists and the ruling regional outfit,” said Prasad Hari Chandan, the Congress chief whip in the state Ass­embly and former home minister.

To prove their point, the Opposition leaders refer to the recent election to the post of chairman of Koraput Zilla Parishad. The BJD had managed to capture the plum post only because of the support from a single Zilla Parishad member of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), considered to be a frontal organisation of the CPI(Maoists).

The BJD and the Congress had equal strength in the newly elected Zilla Parishad and needed just one additional vote to capture the chairmanship.

According to Opposition members, the government failed to implement a deal struck between the BJD and CMAS during the Zilla Parishad chairman’s election and that prompted the Maoists to kidnap Hikaka who had reportedly played a key role in arranging the CMAS’s support.

The Opposition leaders also wonder how the ruling BJD could join hands with an outfit which was banned by its own government a few years back branding it to be a Maoist-supported organisation.
While banning the CPI(Maoists) in 2006, the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government had imposed a ban on CMAS which is based at Narayanpatna, a highly naxal-infested area in Koraput district. The ban is still in force.

However, the BJD and CMAS have strongly refuted the allegations made by the Congress and the BJP.

“The Koraput Zilla Praishad chairman’s election was a local issue. It has nothing to do with the MLA’s kidnapping. The Opposition parties are trying to make political capital out of the abduction incident which is unfortunate,” said senior BJD legislator and former minister Damodar Rout.

The CMAS shares the view. “The CMAS is not a naxal outfit. I want to categorically say that the organisation had nothing to do with the MLA kidnapping incident. During the Zilla Parishad chairman’s election, the BJD and Congress had approached us. The Congress is now spreading canards against us only because we did not support them,” said Dandapani Mohanty, an adviser to the CMAS.

Mohanty is one of the two interlocutors chosen by the Maoists to negotiate with the state government for the release of Italians kidnapped by the red rebels in Kandhamal district.