MP birthday bash battle in Odisha
The Odisha government on Saturday sealed the office of Bhubaneswar MP and BJP national spokesperson Aparajita Sarangi for 15 days over her alleged violation of Covid-19 guidelines.
Soon after the closure of her office, Aparajita opened a makeshift office on the roadside and demanded that the office of the ruling Biju Janata Dal should be sealed immediately and alleged that double standard should not be adopted in following Covid-19 guidelines.
Aparajita on Sunday began hearing public grievances outside her office and announced that she would continue to work on her development agenda. “I have no ill feelings towards anyone. My sole objective is to continue development work.”
She also sent a letter to the chief minister asking him eight questions to which she expects answers.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation sealed her office and asked her to submit the names of the persons who attended her birthday party on Wednesday in violation of Covid-19 guidelines. The corporation said they need to undergo Covid-19 testing. Aparajita subsequently called a news conference and announced that she would continue to listen to the grievances of the people sitting on the roadside.
She said, “I quit the IAS 11 years before my retirement to join politics so that I could work for the people. No one can stop me from doing that. Steps have been taken against me with a vindictive motive.”
Making an oblique attack on chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Aparajita said, “I have to go and mix with the people adhering to the Covid guidelines. But here the administration is being run through virtual meetings from within the confines of the residence.”
She pointed out that even school and mass education minister Samir Ranjan Dash, who had tested positive for Covid-19, was seen attending the funeral ceremony of a former minister allegedly without a mask.
Aparajita also shared 17 photos and a video which allegedly show Covid-19 guidelines being violated in the BJD office.
“The BJD office should be closed immediately for 15 days. Those who had attended various programmes there had violated the Covid-19 guidelines,” she said.
She said she also had pictures of state home minister Dibya Shankar Mishra violating the norms in his district while attending a meeting.
“I will soon write a letter to the Hon’ble chief minister on the issue and seek an answer from him,” she said and committed to following the Covid-19 guidelines.
On Friday, Mishra had written a letter to Union minister of state for home Nityananda Rai alleging that Aparajita was not following Covid-19 guidelines and making a “mockery of the struggles and sufferings that ordinary people are going through”.
“In this backdrop Honourable MP celebrating her birthday in disregard of Covid guidelines makes a complete mockery of the struggles and sufferings that ordinary people are going through,” the letter said.
Mishra also urged Rai to bring the issue to the notice of the Prime Minister and Union home minister and advise the MP not to endanger the lives of people in Bhubaneswar.
After Aparajita raised the issue of double standards being adopted while dealing with cases of violation of Covid-19 guidelines, police lodged an FIR against BJD legislator Umakanta Samantray who had attended the funeral procession of former minister and BJD lawmaker Pradeep Maharathy despite testing positive for Covid-19.
Samantray has, however, apologised for his conduct. “I tested positive for Covid-19 out of emotion, I turned up at the funeral procession,” he said.
BJD spokesperson Sulata Deo said, “The decision to seal the Bhubaneswar MP’s office is an administrative decision. Even more buildings and hotels will be sealed. The BJD has nothing to say on the matter.”
In another development, Jagannath Sena, a political outfit, lodged a complaint on Saturday against Dash and his ministerial colleague Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi for alleged violation of Covid-19 guidelines.