Dream Merchants

In his initial decade as   Chief Minister, Mr Patnaik espoused the non-existent dreams of his father, Mr BijuPatnaik, to the people of Odisha. Now, after two decades at the helm, he presents his dreams of "New Odisha, Naveen Odisha." These dreams resemble the fictitious and supercilious American dreams or the aspirations of salvation in Hindu spiritual teachings–elusive and intangible. Their realization remains elusive, as even the dreamer himself seems uncertain about their true essence.

By fielding tented MLAs and feeble leaders as candidates–many of whom are poised to lose against the well-organized Hindutva electoral machinery–Mr. Patnaik appears to be acquiescing to the impending dominance of these forces. His approach reflects a leader resigned to his fate, adopting the demeanour of a defeated commander in the political arena, rather than actively steering the state towards a more robust and resilient progressive political future.

In the ensuing general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sells Modi’s dream, and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) sells Naveen Patnaik’s dreams to the masses. What are these dreams? What do these dreams mean for the working masses? No one knows these elusive dreams. The truth is that the true essence of these elusive dreams remains shrouded in mystery. People must be careful of such political quacks who sell dreams during elections to control the everyday lives of the masses after their victory. People must defeat these dream sellers and choose candidates who talk about secular, scientific, successful, and alternative policy visions for the masses.

The current candidate profiles of all mainstream political parties in Odisha resemble an ideology-free zone in politics, devoid of principles, policies, and visions for people. The present and future of the state and its people are poised to be in the hands of individuals lacking vision. The prevailing camaraderie between the ruling party and the opposition party has transformed democracy in the state into a corporate joint venture aimed at capturing and sharing power to serve the ruling and non-ruling elites. This collusion sidelines democratic scrutiny, allowing the state's resources to be monopolized by the corporate class unchecked. Politics for profit is the only motto of a market democracy led by the BJD and BJP in the state. Both parties are working overtime in handing over the mining and marine resources of the state to the corporate class without any form of democratic scrutiny.

In this critical juncture, the people in Odisha must unite and reject both the BJP and BJD, seeking instead a political alternative rooted in substantive policies aimed at the development and welfare of the masses. Only through this concerted effort can the populace alter their democratic destiny, breaking free from the grip of various iterations of the ruling class and castes that serve the interests of crony capitalists. These vested interests have long plundered the state's forest, water, agricultural, mineral and marine resources, leaving the people mired in poverty and deprivation. It is only by dismantling this entrenched system and electing a government that genuinely prioritizes the needs of the working masses that a new political dawn can emerge in Odisha.

(Contributed by Prof Bhabani Shankar Nayak)

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Vol 56, No. 43, Apr 21 - 27, 2024