Politics of Padmashree
Padmashree is the fourth highest civilian award in India. It has created chaos when Sri Haldhar Nag, a Kosali language poet got this award. Lot of politics is on the play. It is not that Sri Nag is the first person from the region to achieve the award. Many have been awarded Padmashree from western Odisha before him. Yes, it is true; he got for Kosali literature for the first time; a language which is waiting for its recognition.
All it started in 2014. Orally I requested the Bargarh MP Prabhas Singh on June 25th 2014 at a meet to recommend the name of Sri Nag for Padmashri. Groupism is a part and parcel of every movement. The Pro-BJD and group wanted to hijack the language movement from us. And the state government is also eager to butcher it. Particularly, the Bargarh MP and his followers, who wanted to hijack the movement and tried many instances too. People may recall how Sri Nag was taken to Navin Patnaik in 2014 and declared his admission in to BJD without his knowledge, how he was leveled as Odia poet by the Odisha Sahitya Akademi. All this was handy work of the same BJD group. But the pro-BJD group has failed in all instances.
After a gap of a few months the group met the Bargarh collector and requested him to recommend the name of Sri Haldhar Nag for Padmashree to the state government on April 6th 2015. The Bargarh MP also wrote a letter in his pad in the same month. Please note that the recommendation of the Bargarh MP was not fruitful. Earlier he had recommended name of one of his friends for consecutive 2 years but they were failed in achieving Padma award.
In 2nd week of November 2015, Sri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Patroleum and Natural Gas also recommend the name of Sri Haldhar Nag for Padmashree. The letter was published by Sri Ashwini Sarangi, State Vice President, BJP in social media. A minister of Union of India’s recommendations means a lot. Local media of Odisha also covered it prominently and finally the name of Haldhar Nag was declared on 26th January 2016 for Padmashree. Now, everyone in Odisha knows that, it is Sri Pradhan who highlighted the talent of Sri Nag. And Sri Sarangi was instrumental in doing all paper works.
It was an emotional affair for the region in many ways after receiving the award from the President of India. It was symbolical for the language struggling for recognition, and a suppressed mass. The wind was in favour of BJP now. The BJD group was looking to turn it towards their camp. They wanted to create an opportunity out of it. They took the poet to the Chief Minister and felicitated him. The CM declared ‘Koshali’ research institute named after the poet while felicitation. This declaration again created a huge ripple of cheers in the literary and intellectual circle of the region. But BJD and the Chief Minister are habituated with declarations, writing letters, cutting ribbon and lying foundation stones but never implement the projects. And BJD is a pro-coastal party; they just wanted to have a bite of emotion which was surfacing. Immediately a war like situation was created to engage the folks of western Odisha in battle; whether the name of the language is Kosali or Sambalpuri. They knew it; this is the string, just to play it. Question arises why the CM mentioned ‘Koshali’? Was it a typographical error or an error to create chaos in the region leading to distractions from the main object?
Further, on 11th April an Odia daily published the news that the name of Sri Nag was not recommended by the state government. This news created uproar in the social media as well as in all other media. BJD was in back foot. The culture minister was forced to hold press meet for clarification. The minister stated that, name of Sri Nag was recommended from Culture Ministry to the General Administration Department which is headed by the Chief Minister. The Culture Minister dusts off but dusted the Chief Minister.
A retired pro-BJD bureaucrat wanted to divert the tussle between BJP-BJD and wrote on his Facebook on 17th April that the credit goes to a senior bureaucrat of Sambalpur who works in the PMO.
On 27th January another Padma awardee and noted film maker Sri Nila Madhab Panda also informed me telephonically that he got the award by recommendation of the state government where as Sri Nag has got the award by the recommendation of the union government.
Now from the statement of the Culture Minister of Odisha and telephonic information by Nila Madhab Panda and timeline writing of a retired bureaucrat confirms that Sri Nag’s name was not recommended by the state government. Only film maker Nila Madhab Panda’s name was recommended by the state government who works for BJD in election campaign and other promotional activities of the party. Even he was sanctioned huge amount of money to produce film on Navakalebara.
Still some pro-BJD people who are receiving benefits in different ways from the state government are engaged in escalating the battle of Kosali Vs Sambalpuri; divide and rule.