Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, an educationist, a visionary and above all a statesman, is known in Odisha. Out of his endeavour, Amo Odisha has turned into a political party called Amo Odisha Party [AOP] in 2014. He had a vision of a prosperous and clean Odisha, which led him into politics at the tender age of 18. Since then, Patnaik has been passionately involved in civil society networking, institution building and in varied social activities. The visionary leader termed Naveen as the most popular leader as he has excelled in the art of corruption. On the other hand, he also alleged Congress, a party which does not allow natural leaders to grow and no self-respected person can remain in the party for long.
Excerpts of his exclusive interview with Sandeep Pattnaik and Brahmi Priya Samantray….
Some political analysts perceive Amo Odisha Party [AOP] as a clone of Aam Admi Party at National level. How do you react to it(?).
I don’t agree with that. Amo Odisha organization was formed way back in 1996 has the sole motto to render social service. Of late, we have decided to convert it into a political party after I left Congress. It has no relation with Aam Admi Party [AAP] except some accidental similarity in name.
Whether the formation of AOP was an accident or a pre-planned move to help Naveen Patnaik as the new party has split anti-BJD votes and helped Naveen.
The formation of AOP was neither an accident nor a pre-planned move. AOP has been formed in a natural process following my expulsion from the Congress party. How can you allege that we have formed the party to help Naveen Patnaik? The policy of AOP is very clear and unambiguous. It directly ask questions to all those who had been in power for the last 50 years. Especially, it demands an answer from
Naveen Patnaik who is in power for the last 14 years. Our question to him is why Odias are poorest in the country despite Odisha being endowed with huge natural resources(?).
You have landed in to the battleground for general election – 2014 with a slogan Maa-Mati-Matrubhasa and Swabhiman. What does it signify(?).
‘Maa’ signifies protection and promotion of women. ‘Mati’ is a generic term signifying agriculture as a form of development of the state. ‘Matrubhasa’ is our cultural tradition. All these put together should create a basis for self respect, i.e. ‘Swabhiman’.
Party-hopping has been quite significant this time in the state on the eve of the GE-2014. What is your take on it(?).
Political animals have to survive in the political jungle. Come election time, party hopping is again a natural process. One cannot be politically relevant without being in a party. People like us who cann’t do this happening have formed party of their own.
Every political party is saying about the development of Odisha in their manifesto. What is the definition of development according to you(?).
Four crores of people of Odisha should be happy. We have enough resources to make them happy. Need of the hour is efficient management of our resources, which unfortunately is lacking.
You had been in the Congress Party for quite long. Despite that, you had to face the wrath of the central party leaders and ultimately ousted from the party. To whom do you held responsible for that(?).
I don’t hold anybody responsible. It is the Congress system which does not allow natural leaders to grow. I joined Congress because of my family. My father, father-in-law, uncle all were in Congress. No self respected person can be comfortable in Congress party. I value self respect more than any self interest.
How do you think the ideology of AOP is different from that of Congress (the party in which you had been earlier), as far as the development perspective of the state is concerned(?).
AOP ideology is very clear. Its focus is on Odisha. One may call it a regional party with a regional bias. This is how AOP is different from the Congress.
Every party including AOP has held Naveen-led BJD government in Odisha as the most corrupt in terms of governance. But, Naveen emerges as the most popular leader of the state over the years.
This is an irony. Post-liberalization, electoral politics has brought about a massive change in our democratic set up. Votes are not own anymore, they are literally bought and traded as if we buy commodities in the market. As a result, corruption is bound to increase to fuel the needs of modern electoral politics. Naveen Patnaik has excelled in the art of corruption; hence he is the most popular leader of the
TIMES magazine, one of the leading and acclaimed news magazines had featured Odisha as ‘India’s State of Excellence’ along with Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra in the past. How do you like to comment(?).
This is a brilliant example of paid news. Statistics can prove and disprove anything.
You have declared in your manifesto to give priority to Agro-based industries in the state but not to the iron and steel sector, which also bears significance for the state economy…
As I have said before, we have plenty of natural resources. Hence, industries will come on its own. We don’t have to roll red carpet for the investors. Iron and steel sector does not necessarily generate the impetus for the ancillary growth. Our example of Rourkela Steel Plant [RSP] should teach us iron alone may not be the key to the growth and development of the state. On the other hand, ours being a agrarian state, we should give more thrust to agriculture, without which the state economy cannot prosper.
What is your take on the mining sector that has been confronted with serious scams(?).
Supreme Court is seized with this matter. We need a reform in the mining sector and in the mining policy. Pending this long term policy changes, state government can immediately takeover the mining rights of all ores. This will substantially reduce the scope of corruption and enhance stability and resources.
What about the involvement of your family members in Mining Scam(?).
Everybody is open to investigation. Anybody found guilty should be punished. Invoking family relationship is a convenient strategy of political rivals to divert attention.
Do you welcome the recent Supreme Court verdict for a CBI inquiry into the multi crore chit fund scam in the state(?).
I not only welcome but hope, CBI will be efficient enough to unearth the money that has been looted from almost every family in the state. If mining scam was rape, chit fund scam is mass rape.
Are you thinking of any post-poll alliance with any other political party, as your party had already into pre-poll tie-up with Kharabela Swain of ‘Utkal Bharat’(?).
Kharbela Swain has joined our party; there was no such political alliance. We are a new party, election results are yet to come. We have very little time to organize ourselves. It is premature to talk about alliance. However, we will support any move which will help in the development of the state.
What is your winning prospects in the Khandapada assembly constituency
in General Election 2014(?).
I have not the habit of saying that I am confident of winning like other political leader. Ours is a new party. We have got our party symbol just 15 days before the general election and did not get enough time to mobilize people across the state. We have fought this election not in the context of winning but we just want to spread our message among the people of Odisha.
What is post-poll political equation both in Odisha and at the Centre(?).
Both Odisha and India are looking for a change. Let’s hope for the best.