OST Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 8 :
Bhupinder Singh may not have made his mark as the Leader of Opposition (LoP), but he will surely go down in history as the first LoP in history to have gone on an overnight protest dharna in the well of the House. The feat is likely to be remembered even more by the posterity because Singh has refused to budge for at least 36-hours i.e. until Monday.
The Congress members have also decided to stay beside their leader. Opposition members sitting on indefinite and overnight dharna in the House is not new. But perhaps this is the first time in history that a Leader of Opposition would resort to such tactic.
Defying the age-old tradition, the angry Leader of Opposition on Saturday marched to the well of House and sat on the reporters’ table when he found the Speaker was unwilling to ask the chief minister Naveen Patnaik to reply personally to the debate on the Tikiri school teacher Itishree Pradhan, who died after being set ablaze by an unidentified person.
The ruling BJD members, who never ever anticipated such a move by the Leader of Opposition, were clearly out of their wits. The only option for them was to persuade the’ ever friendly’ leader to give up the idea and return to his seat.
But what they perhaps did not realise was that it was a calculated move by the lawmaker and former minister from Kalahandi and he was, for that precise reason, in no mood to oblige them. All the persuasion and cajoling by the Speaker, Parliamentary Affairs minister Kalpataru Das, Government Chief Whip Pravat Tripathy and other members of the ruling BJD went in vain as Singh remained unmoved.
While the propriety of such a move by the Leader of Opposition is a matter of debate, what is clear is Singh’s surprise move has put the ruling BJD and its supremo Naveen Patnaik in a spot. It has also come as a shot in the arm of a beleaguered Congress, which can now claim to be the champion of the cause of women, especially their safety and security.
The Congress could not have asked for more and the BJD anything worse in a situation where it had taken the Opposition for granted.
A senior BJP leader and former MLA put it aptly: “While Bhupinder & Co will snore through the night, the BJD bosses are likely to lose their sleep, at least until Monday.”