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Ex-Bureaucrats Haven’t Proven To Be Successful Politicians In Odisha, Can Aparajita Defy This Trend?

23 November 2018

Ajesh Mallick

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Bhubaneswar: In the wake of former Odisha cadre senior bureaucrat Aparajita Sarangi’s foray into politics after her recent voluntary retirement from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and in the backdrop of some of the former bureaucrats having proved to be unsuccessful in electoral politics in Odisha, political analysts wonder if Aparajita would be an exception.

Keen on joining politics and trying her luck in electoral battle, Aparajita Sarangi recently opted for VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) and has finally availed it to begin her tryst with political destiny.

The million dollar question now arises if she could come off with flying colours in her new venture into public life. It is because instances galore in Odisha and former bureaucrats like Kharavela Swain, late Pyarimohan Mohapatra and Jatish Chandra Mohanty are the three glaring examples. Even though Kharavela Swain and Pyarimohan Mohapatra tasted the fruit of electoral politics then being active leaders in BJP and BJD respectively, they have been noticed unsuccessful sans their respective parent parties. While Pyari Babu’s “Jan Morcha” couldn’t make a mark even in his lifetime, Kharavela Babu’s “Utkal Bharat” and Jatish Chandra Mohanty’s “Samruddha Odisha” are yet to carve a niche in Odisha politics.

Poll pundits now wait and watch Aparajita’s foray into de facto public life and her fate in electoral politics. According to them, there is hell and heaven difference between being in de jure public life as a bureaucrat and becoming successful versus the de facto public life where the voters call the shot.

Influencing the general public as a bureaucrat may be easy, but wooing voters and bagging their votes is obviously an up-hill task.If luck favours, one could be through. Or else, same may be the fate like that of Kiran Bedi. Even in her case, PM Modi’s charisma failed to work wonder during the Delhi Assembly elections where another former bureaucrat Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) stole the march. While Delhi polls had mostly urban voters, rural voters play a pivotal and decisive role in Odisha’s assembly and parliamentary election results, opine political observers.

In his reactions, political expert and senior journalist Prasanta Patnaik said, “Aparajita Sarangi is a well-known Odisha cadre IAS officer and she was fond of controversy. Time can say how far Aparajita Sarangi could benefit from joining BJP and vice versa.”

“Bureaucrats have plunged into politics in Odisha and among them the most successful was Pyarimohan Mohapatra. He was completely controlling Odisha politics then. But, what was his fate later on? He turned to be unwanted,” the senior scribe remarked.

He also commented, “During her stint as a bureaucrat, Aparajita Sarangi has never represented the masses of Odisha. Her departmental staff here can better explain about her pro-people activities then. She never proved in her past tenure that she is interested in protecting the interests of the people of Odisha. It’s now to wait and watch how far the people of Odisha would accept her in politics.”

“BJP may accommodate her in any other State. But, it is premature to comment if she could prove herself to be a successful politician or not,” quipped the experienced journalist.

Another political analyst and senior journalist Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra said, “She was in bureaucracy and politics is a completely different genre. Her success in this new career will depend on how far she could cope up with politics and involve herself in the public problems.”

“Though bureaucrats haven’t been so much successful in the past, we can’t conclude now if she would fail to be successful in politics. She is not a political leader. She has forayed into politics encashing her name and fame in bureaucracy. Hence, it can’t be deduced that the party will be benefitted from her joining. Rather how far she would be benefitted from the party should be observed. Had it not been, she could have contested as an independent candidate,” opined the senior scribe.

He further commented, “There is a hell and heaven difference between the lifestyle of a political leader and a bureaucrat. Politics is not a bed of roses. Its path is thorny. Hence, her (Aparajita Sarangi’s) political future depends on her adjustment with the new career.”

Notwithstanding that, Democracy is ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ and a bona fide citizen of India having the eligibility to contest elections can be in the fray as a candidate.

As per the norms set by the Election Commission of India: “Article 84 (b) of Constitution of India provides that the minimum age for becoming a candidate for Lok Sabha election shall be 25 years. Similar provision exists for a candidate to the Legislative Assemblies vide Article 173 (b) of the Constitution read with Sec. 36 (2) of the R. P. Act, 1950.”

But, he or she mustn’t be a government servant or hold an office of profit. Prior to being a candidate, he or she must quit the government post or office of profit.

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Prasanta Patnaik, Senior Journalist

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Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra, Senior Journalist