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Deadlock Over Mamita Murder

Bhubaneswar: Opposition Congress Lawmakers forced entered into the Speaker’s Podium with placards while BJP Legislators trooped into the Well of the House on Monday, demanding the removal of minister DS Mishra over the murder of Kalahandi teacher, leading to chaos in the Odisha Legislative Assembly.

As soon as the House assembled for the Question Hour, the Congress Members climbed the Speaker’s Podium with placards, shouting slogans demanding the Minister’s resignation.

At the same time, the BJP Members trooped into the Well of the House, leading to chaos.

The Treasury Bench Members also raised from their seats putting on masks of freedom fighter Jayee Rajguru, protesting against the Centre’s “refusal” to recognize ‘Paika Bidroha’ as the first struggle of Independence.

What in fact further irked the opposition members was that MoS Home Mr.Mishra, on behalf of the Chief Minister, who is in charge of the Home department, replied to a written question of BJP Whip Mohan Majhi on the woman teacher’s murder case.

Mr.Majhi had sought to know from the Chief Minister to name the VIPs and their motive to visit the Mahaling college in Kalahandi district a month prior to the murder. He also asked the CM to name the persons who spent night at the college and their links with the murder and the alleged sex scandal.

“The case is sub-judice. On Odisha Government’s request, the High Court has nominated former district judge, ABS Naidu, to monitor the investigation into the case,” Mishra, who is on the eye of the storm, said in the written reply. 

Unable to run the House, Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro adjourned the proceedings till 4 pm. When the House reassembled, it was again adjourned for 30 minutes as the Speaker convened an all-party meeting to break the deadlock.

However, the issue could not be resolved as both the side remained adamant on their stands. While the opposition BJP and Congress stick to their demands of sacking the minister and handling over the case to CBI, the treasury bench members did not accept it.

The difference of opinion between the two sides led to no decision. “Ask the leaders who joined the all-party meeting,” Speaker Mr.Patro told reporters after the meeting.

Immediately after the adjournment, the Governing BJD members sat on a dharna near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the State Assembly premises, protesting against the Centre’s move.

On the other side, the BJP Members marched to the Post Master General’s Office and dropped a letter addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, urging him to attend the Assembly.

They expressed concern as Mr.Patnaik did not attend Assembly proceedings in the last one and a half years even as he went to tours of the districts despite the pandemic and attending Hockey programs in Kalinga Stadium.

The BJP MLAs also raised questions on Mr.Patnaik’s recent video statement, in which he alleged that the opposition parties have politicized the woman teacher’s murder.

The opposition has been accusing Chief Minister Patnaik of shielding the Minister of State for Home, who is allegedly involved in the kidnap and murder of the teacher.

While BJP has been demanding a CBI probe into the matter, Congress is in favour of a probe by a High Court-monitored Special Investigation Team(SIT).

In a video statement, Mr.Patnaik had on Friday appealed to the opposition to cooperate and ensure smooth functioning of the House, which has been witnessing chaos leading to adjournments since the beginning of the session.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said impasse in the Assembly is not good for democracy and the speaker should take the initiative to resolve the issue.

Strongly objecting to Patnaik’s remark of opposition parties politicizing the woman teacgher’s murder case, CLP leader Narasingha Mishra at a press conference in Congress Bhavan, came down heavily on the Chief Minister.

Reminding Chief Minister Mr.Patnaik that when he was a Union Minister in 1999, he personally arrived at a Mahila Police Station in Cuttack to lodge an FIR and had called an Odisha Bandh, Mr.Mishra said adding: “What he did is not politics. But we are following the Constitution and rules of House business and that is politics.”

While rejecting the BJD’s allegation that Opposition kept the Assembly paralyzed, Mr.Mishra said before the Supplementary Budget was presented on the first day of the Winter Session on December 1, the Opposition drew the Speaker’s attention to the letter and motion they had submitted demanding a discussion on the woman teacher’s kidnap and murder case.

“But the Speaker didn’t allow us to speak on the subject,” he said.

This apart, he pointed out that both the Congress and BJP have separately adjournment notices for a discussion on this sensitive matter. “When the House has no business to attend to, the adjournment notices could have been discussed but the BJD government was scared to debate on the issue,” he said.

BJP’s Deputy Leader in the Assembly Bishnu Charan Sethi said, “We will continue to protest till the minister is removed. The chief minister has not accepted any of our demands such as handing over the case to the CBI or sacking the Minister.”