Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 12:
The SC/ST MLAs of Odisha Congress and BJP today shifted their agitation venue to the well of the House after being forcefully evicted from the space in front of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s office.
The decision was taken after Leader of BJP legislature party Basant Panda met the agitating MLAs and asked them to move inside the House to press for their demand that seeks implementation of the Odisha Reservation of Vacancies (ORV) Act to ensure 38 per cent quota for SC/ST students in medical and engineering colleges.
The MLAs will continue their dharna under the podium of the Speaker, said BJP MLA Rabi Nayak.
Same sentiment was echoed by the Congress MLAs as well. Senior Congress MLA Bhujabal Majhi said that the MLAs will not withdraw their agitation until the act is implemented.
Earlier in the day, the MLAs were forcefully evicted from the space in front of the chamber of Chief Minister by Assembly Marshals while they were on a hunger strike demanding implementation of the act. The incident allegedly occurred late this morning when the MLAs attempted to block Naveen from entering his chamber. Media personnel present on the spot had been barred to enter inside.
The MLAs later shifted their agitation to the space in front of the Speaker Niranjan Pujari’s office; however, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra and BJP President Basant Panda persuaded the MLAs against it.
The SC/ ST MLAs were backed by PCC President as well.
A while after the MLAs were removed from the space in front of Chief Minister’s office, Odisha Congress President Prasad Harichandan said, “Evicting MLAs on dharna in front of Chief Minister’s office is violation of human rights”.
Similarly Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra also condemned the use of force.
“It is unfortunate that the employees of Assembly have created history by using force against the MLAs. I condemn it. The State Government has in-principle decided to reserve 38 per cent seats for SC/ST students. The only question is implementation in medical and engineering colleges. The demand of SC/ ST MLAs is just. The Government should have accepted it. Instead, force was applied. This is a barbaric act,” said Mishra.
BJD, on the other hand, washed its hands down from the incident.
“The Speaker had ruled that staging dharna inside the Assembly is illegal. The decision to remove the MLAs from the place had been taken by the Speaker. Biju Janata Dal has nothing to do with it,” said Chief Whip of BJD Anant Das.