Odisha Assembly begins amid noisy scenes
Odisha Assembly began on a stormy note on Wednesday with Opposition Congress MLAs staging a dharna at one of the gates of the legislature to prevent the entry of minister of state for home Dibya Shankar Mishra who is facing allegations of trying to shield the main accused in the Kalahandi teacher Mamita Meher murder case.
Opposition MLAs are demanding Mishra’s arrest and his removal from the council of ministers.
The Congress legislators led by Taraprasad Bahinipati staged a sit-in at the entry point to the Assembly holding placards demanding the minister’s removal and his arrest.
“Go back to the minister of state, home, Odisha, Let CM reply... Give Justice to the Woman Teacher,” the placards read.
The Congress MLAs, who had announced their plans to oppose the minister before the commencement of the session, also put another gate of the legislature under lock to ensure that the MoS home did not enter the House. However, the Assembly secretariat staff later broke the lock and opened the gate.
“We are opposed to Mishra’s entry into the House. We will not allow the tainted minister to define the sanctity of the sacred House,” said Bahinipati.
Senior Congress MLAs, including former minister Suresh Routray, Santosh Singh Saluja, and some others also participated in the protest.
Other MLAs and ministers, however, were allowed to enter the House.
Mishra was not seen in the Assembly in the first hour while the House made obituary references to its ex-members and Covid-19 Warriors who succumbed to the disease.
The agitating MLAs later withdrew the dharna and participated in the House proceedings.
The House was later adjourned till 5pm after obituary reference was made to the departed leaders. The session that commenced here with strict adherence to the Covid-19 protocol will continue till December 31 and have a total of 26 working days, including five private members days. The first supplementary budget of Rs 19,833 crore for the current financial year was tabled by finance minister Niranjan Pujari in the afternoon.
The state government, which is aware of the Opposition’s plans to attack it on the Meher case, has sought to take the sting out of the issue by asking Orissa High Court to nominate a retired high court or district and sessions judge to monitor the investigation into the case.
On the other hand, ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders launched a counter-attack on the BJP-led Opposition by undertaking a march to the Raj Bhavan to highlight the Centre’s alleged negligence of Odisha in the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY). Party leaders accused the Centre of being biased towards Odisha.