Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 10:
With elections for the lead cooperative bank in Odisha scheduled for July 12, the proportionate reservation system in the new cooperative law has led to a peculiar situation in which top leaders of the ruling BJD are spewing venom against each other. The party leaders are split into four factions over who will grab the post of president of the State Cooperative Bank.
According to sources in the BJD, Birendra Bhushan Swain, brother of MLA Ranedra Pratap Swain is eyeing the powerful post of president in the State Cooperative Bank. The party has vested Ranendra Pratap Swain with the management of cooperative elections.
It’s not just Birendra Bhushan who is in the race for the coveted post of president in the State Cooperative Bank. Former minister Rabinarayan Nanda’s wife Indira Nanda and Debasish Patra, son of Minister Badri Narayan Patra, are also in the race.
Elections for the lead cooperative bank in the state are scheduled for July 12. As part of the process, 21 directors will be elected to State Cooperative Bank. For the purpose, 21 zones have been constituted and voters’ list drawn up. On the basis of electoral college, proportionate reservation has been introduced for the first time. From each zone, a director will be elected to the State Cooperative Bank who in turn will elect the president.
It’s worth mentioning that the zones of Birendra Bhushan Swain and Indira Nanda have been declared reserved for backward classes and scheduled tribes respectively. Similarly, Debasish Patra’s zone has been declared as reserved for women. Consequently, there is no way these leaders can get elected from their zones. The leaders eyeing the top post are terribly annoyed with the situation. Some party leaders have even alleged that a group within the party has hatched a conspiracy to keep them away from the post of president of the State Cooperative Bank. They have threatened to teach the group a lesson in the July 12 elections.
Sources in the BJD said while there is turbulence within the party over the issue, Minister Arun Sahu has begun efforts to use the opportunity to fish in turbulent waters by initiating a move to get his closest aide Loknath Sahu (Mitu) elected as the president of the State Cooperative Bank. Its learnt that Minister Sahu has sought the support of some ministers for his move.
Neither Birendra Bhusan Swain nor Indira Nanda nor Debasish Patra can get elected from their zones as these have been reserved for different reserved categories. However, they can become candidates in other zones, said experts on elections to cooperative bodies. Since 80 percent of votes in the electoral college are those of the BJD, there should be no problem in them getting elected from other zones if BJD president Naveen Patnaik so wishes, they added.
On the other hand, there are allegations that the reservation system has been cleverly manipulated to keep these leaders out of the race. A senior cooperator said that the rules clearly state that one post of director will be kept reserved for scheduled caste while another will be reserved for scheduled tribe and two posts will be reserved for women. Which means 17 director posts will be in the unreserved category. Reservation has been used to keep these BJD leaders from grabbing posts in the state Cooperative Bank.
Sources in the BJD said it is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who will decide on who will become the president of the State Cooperative Bank. It is Patnaik who will also decide who will be the candidate from which zone. In the final analysis, whoever is in the good books of party president Naveen Patnaik will get elected as the director.
Senior leaders of the party are trying to rope in as much support as they can for their supported candidates to get elected as directors. This has divided the BJD into factions..