BHUBANESWAR: Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka’s release from Maoist captivity may have relieved his family members, but it has compounded the problem for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as the legislator is under tremendous pressure from the CPI (Maoist) to resign.
hould he decide to quit as MLA, the Biju Janata Dal government will be forced to go for Assembly bypolls for the second time in a year, both the time due to Maoists. The rebels had gunned down Umerkote MLA Jagabandhu Majhi last September forcing a byelection.
Ever since his release on Thursday, Hikaka has not uttered a word on what happened in the praja court and the written undertaking which he submitted there expressing his willingness to resign from membership of the Assembly and snap all ties with the BJD. “You will know about this in due course of time,” he said. Significantly, Hikaka did not also deny the possibility of his resignation from the Assembly.
Naveen Patnaik too has kept mum on the issue of pressure on the MLA for resignation. Sources close to the MLA maintained that he may disclose his future course of action after meeting Naveen Patnaik at Bhubaneswar on Monday.
Hikaka’s is a case in which both BJD stands to lose as much as it can gain. The quit order of the Maoists on Hikaka is viewed in political circles here as a strategy to pave the way for Nachika Linga, the convenor of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), a peasants body which is seen more as a frontal organisation of the outlawed CPI (Maoist).
While the results of the Zilla Parishad polls in which the CMAS-backed independent candidate won from Narayanpatna seat may have led the organisation to think of taking to electoral politics, the ruling party will stand to gain if it can gain Linga’s confidence.
Although BJD is unsure of the political ambitions of Linga who is currently on the run because of his alleged involvement in a series of violent activities in Narayanpatna area, the growing influence of CMAS in Bandhugaon and Narayanpatna blocks in Koraput district is something that no political party can ignore, not the least BJD.
Senior BJD leaders, however, maintained that the party will not want Hikaka to resign. Former minister and senior leader Damodar Rout said that Hikaka should now be a mediator between the state government and tribals to solve problems in the area. It is the people who had elected him and he should work for them, Rout said. Finance minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei also maintained that the quit order on Hikaka is not acceptable.
Opposition political parties, however, alleged that the entire hostage crisis has exposed how the state government has lost all control in the region. A Maoist organisation asking a MLA to resign is a direct challenge to the state’s authority, a senior Congress leader said and alleged that the failure of the state government has resulted in such a sorry state of affairs.
Situation has deteriorated to such an extent that elected representatives also do not have any security. Last year sitting BJD MLA from Umerkote Jagabandhu Majhi was gunned down by Maoists at Raighar. BJD won the by election from Umerkote in November.
But sources in the BJD maintained that the situation will not be so favourable for the party if Hikaka resigns and there is a bypoll for Laxmipur. The party may not get support from the CMAS which harbours political ambitions of its own.