Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 20:
Pandemonium prevailed in the Odisha Assembly for the better part of the first day of the winter session today after an alleged unsavoury remark by Agriculture minister Pradip Maharathy against the BJP MLA from Brajarajnagar Radharani Panda.
Protesting against the objectionable remark, BJP members demanded action against the minister. Later, they staged a dharna outside the Assembly hal and submitted a memorandum to the Speaker Niranjan Pujari in this regard.
The incident took place when the BJP members were demanding the resignation of chief minister Naveen Patnaik over the chit fund scam in the state in the afternoon session.
“The minister has offended the entire womanhood through his highly condemnable remark. It marks a tainted chapter in the annals of this August House,” Panda told the media later.
“We were demanding the resignation of the chief minister on the chit fund issue when some ruling party members told me that I was crossing all limits. The Agriculture minister, who was among them, then threatened me of dire consequences and used unsavoury words which I vehemently opposed. Later, I sought an explanation from him on the matter and he apologised. I would take up the matter with my party leaders who would decide the future course of action,” Panda told the media later.
An unrepentant Maharathy, however, refused to apologise saying he had said nothing new to the first time member. He even claimed that Panda mmight have heard or got him wrong.
“When I have not used any objectionable remarks against Panda,wthere is the question of tendering an apology? She might have heard something wrong amidst the din,” Maharathy told reporters while refuting the allegations.
Claiming that he had requested Panda not to pass derogatory remarks against the chief minister since she was brought to politics by his father, the late Biju Patnaik, the minister said the authorities of the Assembly are free to check the recording of the House to arrive at the truth.
“I only suggested that she should concentrate on making arrangements for her daughter’s marriage instead of raising slogans against the chief minister,” the ebullient member from Pipli said.
Meanwhile, in a letter to Speaker Niranjan Pujari, the leader of the BJP Legislature Party leader Basant Kumar Panda said never had the State Assembly witnessed this kind of behaviour from a minister towards a female member.
“We not only condemn the incident, but also request you as the custodian of the dignity of the House to reprimand the concerned minister with an assurance that such incidents will not be repeated in future,” Pujari said in his letter.
In his reaction, leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra said any disrespect towards a female member was a shame for all. He urged the Speaker to adjourn the House and take stock of the situation arising out of the alleged humiliation of the MLA.
On his part, the Speaker said the matter would be discussed at an all-party meeting to be convened soon.