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Cong and BJP join hands to protest

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 19: Congress and BJP members from Western Odisha today joined hands to protest against the alleged high-handedness of the ruling BJD in their Assembly constituencies.

They sat on dharna in the well of the Assembly and tried to disrupt the proceedings even during the presentation of budget in the House. Finally, the agitated Congress members staged a walk out.

Raising the issue, BJP MLA from Patnagarh K.V. Singhdeo said he had given a privilege notice against the government, which had breached his privilege as a member of the House and violated the standing instructions of the Speaker.

Singhdeo said the state government had decided to inaugurate two drinking water supply projects in his Assembly constituency in Balangir district on February 24 and he was invited to the event as guest. The two projects had been taken up on his recommendations as local MLA.

“But to my surprise, the two projects have been inaugurated by Balangir MP Kalikesh Singhdeo and two expert members of Western Odisha Development Council yesterday without my knowledge,” he said.

The BJP MLA demanded a ruling as to whether expert members of Western Odisha Development Council had the authority to officially inaugurate state-funded projects. He also pointed out that there was a standing instruction from the Speaker that no meeting or official event would be held at the district level when the Assembly was in session. “In this case, the Chair’s directive has been violated,” he alleged.

Singhdeo then sat on dharna in the well in protest. Supporting Singhdeo, Congress members trooped in to the well shouting slogans.

They were heard alleging that defeated BJD leaders had been rehabilitated as expert members of the council and they had been interfering in the affairs of their Assembly constituencies.

Agitated Congress members Nihar Mahananda, SS Saluja and SS Bhoi alleged that they were being ignored by the district administration, while Council’s expert members, who were not elected representatives, were reviewing developmental works at the block level. Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat said he had received Singhdeo’s privilege notice and was examining it.

He appealed the Opposition members to go back to their seats to facilitate presentation of state’s annual budget smoothly. However, the agitated Opposition members did not listen to the repeated appeals from the Chair and continued to disrupt the proceedings.