However, what is seen once the elections are over is the fact the public feel hood winked. While making blatant false promises to the voters is nothing new in the Indian political system; the law books are silent about restrictions on such tall and false promises. Hence politicians hardly face any problem in making such tall promises and forgetting them no sooner the elections are over.
Ironically enough, voters are duped by the leaders not just once but repeatedly without any end to the menace. And, undoubtedly the SCs / STs are the worst victims of such duping techniques. It is a despicable a fact that the political parties treat even their own manifestos once the elections are over merely as a few lines scribbled on some papers which hardly see the light of the day.
There hardly has taken place any significant development in the economic condition and lifestyle of the two tribes namely Parajas and the Paharias in the post independent era despite tons of such promises by leaders after leaders. Yet the two tribes men have been casting their votes for decades amidst hope and despair. And 2014 elections are no different for them either. Will there be any real development in their lives after the 2014 elections? That is a million dollar questions.
Both the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo and Odisha's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had paid visits to Kalahandi and Nawarangpur districts during the 2014 elections.
Rahul had said, "The Congress party has always implemented several schemes for the upliftment of the tribal. The development of the weaker tribal sections happens to be the motto of the Congress party. And its solely our party that has brought about Forest Right Act and forest land pattas for tribals."
Patnaik did not lag behind. He said, "The BJD was determined for the development of the areas and the tribals. Efforts would be undertaken to make Kalahandi the Numero Uno district of Odisha. Naveen claimed his BJD government is the first states in the country to have provided forest land pattas under Forest Right Act. My government is the best government who has implemented very successfully forest right act."
But the irony is: during the two terms of the Congress-led UPA regime neither Sonia Gandhi nor her son Rahul could came out a single minute to visit the undivided districts of Kalahandi and Koraput nor Kasipur to examine on their own the implementation of the promises made by Rajiv Gandhi himself. For 10 long years, Sonia Gandhi literally hold the remote of the UPA government in her hands.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik who came to power in 2000, too did not find time in all the 15 years to have a wink at the two foundation stones laid by his father Late Biju Patnaik in 1992 that of the tourism project and in 1994 the ecology park in Kalahandi. These instances are only reflections of the fact of development of the tribals that remaining only in the speeches of the leaders.
Back to the focus of the story: barely few kilometers away from the election campaign dais raised for conducting election rallies of Rahul and Naveen are located in 10 tribal villages and hamlets of the Paraja clan in Amapani Panchayat under Koksara block. The forest department plaque drew our attention while returning to Bhawanipatna from Nawarangur after the election campaign of Rahul and Naveen. The Paraja tribals standing on the road started narrating their woes and abject penury once we asked about their living conditions.
A narrow strip of road passes through the forests. Trudging the fourth rigorously the reached village Birimuhana and then from there we went to villages like Kutru, Adijharana, Kajamalla and Tiriliama of the villages were flags and festoons of different political parties and posters were pasted on several walls both making tall promises. However, stories described by the tribal smacked of tales of destruction and there was not on iota of development.
Over 12,000 Parajas live in the two panchayats which include several villages like Birimunhana. A mere glance at the village brought back memories of the travails and turmoil in the lives of the Parajas narrated in a melancholic manner in the famous award winning novel "Paraja" by repute novelist Gopinath Mohanty.
One felt as if the lives of the simple Paraja s have been stuck up since the time of the Britishers and there has been no end to their torture and exploitation since then. For them, life turns to the same good old basics once the elections are over. The Parajas have witnessed all the elections since the country attained freedom and have been participating in the elections ritually. Apart from it, rest other ruins in the same manner as it was told in the novel "Paraja". The villages are postcard sized pictures of ?Uncle Tom's Cabin? written by Arnold Toynbee.
The areas depict peculiar implementation of government schemes like distribution of forest land pattas and Indira Aawas to the tribals, distributing BPL cards and programs like Janani Seva and Child education. The villages speak volumes about the shoddy implementation of Rajiv Gandhi electrification programme and the Biju KBK and Cottage Yojana.
Frail Phoolmati , an old woman, with her protruding revs, struggles to even breathe. She is still awaiting buyers to eke out a livelihood. Mahua is the only money and sources for her sustenance. The developmental schemes have been literally converted into mere mockeries for hundreds of Paraja people like Phoolmati. They are sandwiched between the tall electoral promises and their unfathomable love for the motherland. The schools have its direction as you come across nimble footed children collecting Mahua and selling Kendu fruits. The tribals have been begging desperately for land pattas under the forest Acts.
Yet, Rahul Gandhi has taken credits for forest land pattas and claims that the Congress party has given to the tribals their genuine forest right acts. And Naveen roars that his government is the number one in the country so far as distribution of forest land and pattas to tribals are concerned. But who in reality will provide forest land rights to the Paraja tribrals of a remote village like Birimuhana: Rahul or Naveen? That is the big debate in Odisha during the 2014 elections.
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