HITTING THE BULL’S EYES

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Never before in our state nor in any states of India, Asmita has become an election issue. All the elections prior to this in Odisha was fought on the plank of poverty eradication, emergency, development and in some emotive issues. But pushing all the election issues, Asmita is in the center stage of Odisha election and it is also touching the psyche and emotion of the people.

Our state had the distinction of the first and only state in India which was formed on the basis of language. To achieve the statehood on the basis of language, a long battle for almost thirty years was fought. Now it is almost eighty-eight years old and during the past eighty-eight years nobody had ever thought, that too after independence once again there will be a situation when another battle will be fought to preserve, protect and propagate our language, literature, culture and above all the Asmita of the state. The battle for formation of state was with the then British rulers and with our neighbouring states those are attacking and hijacking our language by forcefully imposing their language upon us. One of our neighbours had even claimed that Odia is not an original language, it is a sister language of Bangla. But such was the power and potentiality of our language that, it not only established itself as an original language but also got classical language status as the sixth language of our country prior to the language which was claiming that Odia is the sister language of their language. But this time the battle is not against the external aggression but against internal turmoil.

Few months back nobody had ever thought that taking self-pride on our language, literature, heritage and culture which in one word known as Asmita will be a political issue in the election. The word Asmita was first used by the poet Radhanath Roy in his poetry Chilika long back in the year 1891. At that time many poets of his time opposed him because of his Bengali origin and background and also his penchant for perversion in love and relationship. Radhanath Roy remained silent with a hope that time will be the decider. True to his intuition, the word Asmita again surfaced by Madhu babu during Utkal Sammilani. As we all know that on the basis of our language and Asmita, we got the statehood in the year 1936.

Never before in our state nor in any states of India, Asmita has become an election issue. All the elections prior to this in Odisha was fought on the plank of poverty eradication, emergency, development and in some emotive issues. But pushing all the election issues, Asmita is in the center stage of Odisha election and it is also touching the psyche and emotion of the people. Since last twenty-five years Odisha has been ruled by Sri Nabin Pattanaik who does not know reading, writing or speaking Odia. He hardly speaks Odia. Whenever he speaks or reads a written statement of Odia language written in Roman form, his pronunciation is very peculiar and distorted. In spite of that, people of the state have extended their love and support to him. All have the perception that though he was born in Odisha, never stayed here and got his schooling outside Odisha in English medium schools and colleges, so it is quite natural that he cannot speak, write or read Odia. By the passage of time, he will be able to learn Odia. But he belied everybody’s expectation and did not learn Odia. The language barrier helped him to remain insulated from the gossip, backbiting and access of the party functionaries. But never it was an issue that without knowing our state language, he has been ruling the state since last twenty-five years. Why this has become an issue this time?

People argue that he is the son of the legendary politician of this state and we are ready to accept him as son of the soil though he does not know the language of the soil. But by the systematic way he is trying to denigrate the pride of the state by handing over the mantle to the non- Oriya officers for carrying out the administration and one non-Oriya officer for ruling over the state is not acceptable. The way he soft landed his private secretary to politics and subsequently the way his private secretary usurped all powers eliminating all the ministers, MLAs and even the bureaucrats, senior to him raised the eyebrows of the people of the state. The politicians preferred to be a servant and to remain silent because if they don’t get the party tickets they cannot come to power on their own merit, popularity and works. So, the legislators thought it is better to digest the humiliations and get the tickets for the election which according to them is a guarantee to win. In their wildest dream they have never thought that politics will take such a turn so quickly by the Asmita factors.

The political scenario today will be tomorrows history. Have they ever thought, how the history will depict them? The legendary figure in whose name the party was formed was not in power for long but still regarded as a great figure both in state and center politics because of his works and vision. Above all he was taking great pride as an Odia and also depicting his Asmita all over. But the present-day politicians of Odisha have made them so dwarf in Asmita front that history will never forgive them.

Now Asmita has become the bull’s eye in the electoral politics of Odisha. It is to be seen whether people of Odisha are awakening and hitting the bull’s eye or not. The Oxford dictionary should also take a note for incorporating the word Asmita in their coming edition.

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