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MLAs bid anxious farewell

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 15: Members went back to their constituencies with the conclusion of the 14th session of the Odisha legislative Assembly yesterday.

However, most BJD MLAs fear not being nominated again by their party.

“We are not sure whether we will come back to the House. We have seen how the party tickets have been denied to people at the last moment,” said a senior BJD MLA.

But cutting across party lines, everyone agreed that they were leaving the Assembly with wonderful memories of the past five years. The last Assembly had 71 first-time MLAs.

Chandbali MLA Bijay Nayak said: “I did my best to raise various issues. Now, it is up to party chief Naveen Patnaik to decide whether he would give me a party ticket or not. Getting a BJD ticket is the passport to victory. The party is certain to return to power.”

But Nayak knows that his rivals are also lobbying for a ticket.

Kendrapara MLA Sipra Mallick, however, has a different view. “I am not worried about the ticket. The party supremo will certainly review our performance and our support base before taking a decision.”

Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka, who had been kidnapped by Maoists in 2012, said: “I am hopeful of getting a ticket. I used to visit my constituency every month. Though I did not stay the nights there, I kept in touch with people by visiting during the day.”

Balikuda-Erasama MLA Prasanta Muduli said it was difficult to predict if he will return to the House or not and Jajpur MLA Pranab Kishore Das had similar views. He said the decision on tickets entirely depended on Naveen. But he said: “We were able to raise a number of issues in the Assembly.”

However, BJD deputy chief whip Sanjay Dasburma said: “The chief minister has asked us to work as sevaks of the people. I think that we have been successful in this. We are hopeful that we will all get tickets.”

BJD vice-president and health minister Damodar Rout said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the Assembly session. Though the Naveen Patnaik government has introduced a number of schemes for the welfare of tribals, industrialisation and rural development, the system of democratic functioning is gradually eroding.”

Rout slammed the rivals for opposing the government on every issue.

“Though the Opposition is considered as a shadow government, they failed to fulfil their constitutional obligations,” he said.

Senior Congress MLA Damburdhar Ullka said: “Naveen Patnaik was virtually running an administration according to his whims. No development has happened so far.”

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said: “The people are the best judge of whether you are eligible to return to the Assembly or not. This time, the people will show the door to the Naveen Patnaik government.”

Parliamentary affairs minister Kalpataru Das, who has been elected to Rajya Sabha, said: “I will certainly miss the Assembly. My advice to the first time MLAs is to use the library and learn the legislative process. They should try to remain present in the Assembly and take part in the legislation process.”