Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 24:
The Odisha Assembly was adjourned till tomorrow due to a ruckus created by the Opposition over the Speakers’ refusal to allow a motion on the chit fund scam to be debated in the House.
As soon as the House reassembled at 3 pm, the Opposition members went on a rampage throwing banners on the Speaker and breaking the mike on his podium in protest against his refusal to allow the motion.
As the pandemonium continued, Speaker Niranjan Pujari announced the adjournment till tomorrow.
However, the Odisha Civil Courts (Amendment) Bill was passed and the Odisha Religious Endowments (Amendment) Bill moved amid the din before the House was adjourned for the day.
Earlier in the morning, the Speaker had adjourned the House till 3 pm after the treasury bench members made it impossible to conduct any business creating a din over the alleged central neglect in giving the state’s dues for reconstruction work in areas affected by Cyclone Phailin last year and Hudhud this year and ignoring the state’s interests on the Polavaram issue.
The business advisory committee of the Odisha Assembly convened by the Speaker in the afternoon failed to resolve the impasse in the House.
Coming out of the business advisory committee meeting, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said that he and other Opposition members walked out of the meeting as the treasury benches appeared determined to avoid a motion for a discussion on the chit fund issue being taken up in the House.
“The government is clearly afraid of discussing the chit fund scam in the House. That is why it created history of sorts by stalling proceedings in the Assembly. In all my years as a legislator, I cannot remember another occasion when the ruling party disrupted the Question Hour,” Mishra said.
Speaking to the media after the failure of the meeting, Tara Prasad Bahinipati, chief whip of the Congress in the House, said; “Since the ruling party is scared that a debate on the chit fund issue would expose the government, it has been finding ways to avoid a discussion on the issue. As no agreement could be reached between ruling party members over the motion moved by the opposition on chit fund issue at today’s business advisory committee meeting Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra was forced to walk out of the meeting”.
He said that it was agreed at the all party meeting on Saturday that two motions by the opposition on the issue would be taken up for debate. But when the House assembled today, treasury bench members created ruckus to avoid a discussion on the chit fund issue. In citing the chit fund issue being sub-judice to avoid a discussion, Speaker Niranjan Pujari acted in a partisan manner. He is functioning as the speaker of the BJD instead of the speaker of the House as a whole despite an oath taken at the time of assuming office that he shall be above party politics, alleged Bahinipati.
Speaker Niranjan Pujari, however, denied the suggestion that the meeting of the business advisory committee had failed. “Since it involved a matter of procedural law, I have decided to seek the AG’s opinion on it,” he said.
The opposition allegations were also countered by Samir Das, spokesperson for the BJD. He told the media that the government is all in favour of holding the debate because the ruling party itself wanted a discussion on the CBI’s investigation being politically notivated in the chit fund scam. “As far as I know, the speaker wanted a legal view on whether the matter could be debated or not since it was in the courts and thus sub-judice,” he said.
Das’ arguments were rejected both by Bahinipati and BJP spokesperson and Padampur MLA Pradeep Purohit. They said there were ample instances of the Assembly and Parliament taking up for discussion issues that are sub-judice in the highest court as well as high courts.