BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa chief minister Mr Biju Patnaik demanded the constitution of another constituent assembly to redefine the responsibilities of the States and the Centre and reiterated that Article one of the Constitution which defines India as the Union of states should be changed to the United States of India”.

Talking to reporters here after his return from Delhi Mr Patnaik said states having natural and human resources have not been allowed their full play under the existing federal structure.

However the chief minister said there was no need to scrap the existing Constitution but only the part pertaining to the powers of the Centre and the states He said ‘the Preamble of the Constitution was good and should be retained. The fiscal and the states’ autonomy should be debated in the constituent assembly he demanded.

The chief minister said federalism which included the states’ and fiscal autonomy would be the major poll plank of the Janata Dal.

Mr Patnaik said the Centre should only have defence currency railways external affairs and communications with it and the remaining departments should be left to the states. He stressed that concentration of power in the Centre resulted in fissiparous tendencies as in Punjab and Assam. In Orissa also there was simmering anger he said. Mr Patnaik described the resignation of Mr Arun Nehru and four others as “unfortunate”. When asked what was the grievance the chief minister replied that they felt V.P.Singh was behaving like an autocrat.

On being asked if he subscribed to Nehru’s wrong Mr Pat ? be in the party”.

He said there was nothing wrong in Mr V.P.Singh meeting the Shahi Imam of Delhi. He asserted: The Shahi Imam is as much a political leaderas Arif Mohammad Khan”. Replying to a question whether Mr Singh meeting only the Shahi Imam and not the Shankaracharya was a case of political opportunism Mr Patnaik said he might have met the Shankaracharya also.

He said the disputes about seat adjustments in Tamil Nadu between the DMK and the Janata Dal and dissensions in the Janata Party in Karnataka would be settled soon.

He advised the party president MrS.R.Bommai toseck the wheel and plough has the election symbol in case the Election Commission freezes the party’s present symbol. JD

CANDIDATES: About the Janata Dal candidates Mr Patnaik said so far three out of 19 candidates had told him that they would not contest the elections. The former minister of state Mr Srikant Jena had told him that he would not contest from Cuttack. Another former Union Minister Mr Bhajman Behera who was denominated from Dhankanal has also refused to contest About Mr Arjun Shetty nominated from Bhadrak the chief minister said “He has reported sick.”

The chief minister said there was no need for him to contest the elections He admitted the party’s list was without women and Muslim candidates. He claimed he had asked the state textile and handloom minister Mustafiz Ahmad to contest from Cuttack but he refused.


Article extracted from this publication >> May 3, 1991