| Seats of the Opposition members lie empty in the Assembly after Congress MLAs boycotted the governor’s speech. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, March 21: Speaker Maheswar Mohanty today put up a brave face refuting allegations of flouting norms against him, even as the combined Opposition boycotted the customary address of the governor in protest against his presence in the House.
He, however, announced that in keeping with “democratic and parliamentary traditions”, he will not preside over the House till the motion was disposed off.
The Opposition struck a note of discord right from the moment Governor Rameswar Thakur entered the House, accompanied by the Speaker, to deliver his inaugural address.
Leader of the Opposition J.B. Patnaik was heard urging Thakur not to deliver his address in presence of the Speaker accused of violating the model code of conduct during the recent panchayat polls.
The agitated members then trooped into the Well despite the governor turning a deaf ear to their pleas and starting to read out his printed speech.
The House witnessed unruly scenes for some time, with some angry members tearing the speech booklet into pieces and throwing them up in the air, before the Opposition Congress, Orissa Gana Parishad, CPI, CPM and SUCI staged a walkout.
The Opposition had also submitted a notice for moving a no-confidence motion against the Speaker. When the House reassembled after the governor’s inaugural address, Opposition whip Satya Bhusan Sahu pressed for the motion and demanded that it be taken up immediately.
Responding to it, Mohanty said he would allow the debate on the no-confidence motion at an “appropriate time”, possibly after March 24.
The Speaker, then, left the House, true to his promise of not presiding over it till he comes clean of the no-confidence motion, leaving deputy Speaker Prahlad Dora in charge of the proceedings.
Meanwhile, flooded with 30 self-immolation threats during the 9-day budget session, the police have chosen to be better safe than sorry.
Policemen carrying blankets, portable fire extinguishers and water pitchers were seen dotting the stretch along Mahatma Ganghi Marg that led to the House, in a bid to avert any untoward incidents.
“Intelligence inputs have reported more than 30 self-immolation plans during this session prompting us to take immediate measures,” SP Amitabh Thakur said.
Security has also been stepped up in and around the Assembly in the wake of the ongoing Naxalite menace.