Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 15:
Senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra (Lulu), who has been a vocal supporter of egg pelting at Odisha ministers, today urged party activists to change the tactics a bit and carry out protests that fall under IPC-294 ( Obscene acts ).
While Lulu didn’t clearly spell out who the target is going to be, given the politics of the state in the past few days, BJD leaders and specifically the government ministers are going to be the obvious target.
“When the boys (NSUI activists) hurl eggs, they book them section-307 (attempt to murder) of IPC. They have to stay behind the bar for a week to 10 days this way. That is why we are changing the strategy to IPC-294. This is a bailable offence. They will walk in to the police station and walk out gracefully,” said Mohapatra speaking to reporters today.
The incident bears significance as one of the alleged NSUI (National Students’ Union of India) activists was yesterday beaten up brutally by BJD workers after he hurled an egg at Law Minister Arun Sahu’s car in Cuttack. This was considered a game-changer as in earlier attacks the BJD workers never retaliated.
Congress party, however, has been split over these strategies. While some of the leaders including AICC topgun Jayaram Ramesh, Chief Whip in Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati and party spokesperson Sulochana Das have defended egg pelting, many other leaders including Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, former ministers Bhakta Das, Suresh Routray, party spokesperson Ganeswara Behera, Debashsis Patnaik etc have denounced the incidents.
Behera and Patnaik today issued statements distancing the party from the obscene act tactic of Lulu.
“The kids are right in whatever they are doing. It is not important to consult each and every leader. I am part of the Congress and whatever I am doing is being done by Congress,” Lulu reacted while replying back to the critical voices from within the party.
Interestingly, PCC President Prasad Harichandan, so far has neither supported nor opposed the incidents in public. Earlier on January 5, he instead maintained an ambiguous stand by stating that the, “BJD leaders are facing the wrath of the people” without explaining on the involvement of NSUI activists.
BJD spokesperson Pratap Jena, on the other hand, called Congress “a party of hooligans” and reminded it of the Cuttack incident and warned that the party may have to “face the consequences”.
Notably, section 294 of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for obscene acts or words in public. Whoever, to the annoyance of others- (a) does any obscene act in any public place, or (b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both, it says.