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OPP To Bycott Speaker Poll

Bhubaneswar: Opposition BJP and Congress have decided to boycott the Assembly Speaker election scheduled for September 21 as it coincided with the western Odisha’s famous Nuakhai festival.

Accusing the State Government of showing step-motherly attitude towards the people of the Western Odisha, the Congress party first announced to boycott the Assembly Speaker election. Today, the BJP too followed the suit and said the western Odisha MLAs cannot attend the House on September 21, a day after the Nuakhai festival.  

Speaking to media persons here, BJP’s Rengali MLA Nauri Nayak said that it would not be possible for the MLAs of western Odisha to reach Bhubaneswar to attend the Speaker election as the celebration continues till the next day.

While Nuakhai is observed on September 20, the next day is celebrated as ‘Bhet-ghat’ (get-together) where the younger members of the families seek blessings of elders. Many people staying in other states come to their villages to attend ‘Bhet-ghat’, Nayak said.

“Though we had demanded for a change in election date, the Government paid no heed to it,” he alleged.

“The state government is being run by non-Odia bureaucrats and they seem to have no knowledge about Nuakhai and western Odisha. It is unfortunate that the BJD leaders from western Odisha also did not raise the issue with the Government,” he said.

As per the direction of Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra and State BJP president Manmohan Samal, the party’s legislators would boycott the poll, he added.

Earlier, Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra, who hails from Bolangir district, part of the western Odisha, said that his party’s MLAs will not join the election process as the day on which the poll will be held happens to be part of Nuakhai, a major festival of western Odisha.

Shri Mishra alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been taking a “step-motherly” treatment towards the people of the western part of the state.

“It is unfortunate that despite protests, the government decided to hold the Speaker election on September 21. The Congress MLAs will not be able to attend the Speaker election on that day. It is a step-motherly attitude towards western Odisha,” Mishra alleged.

Commenting on this issue, Planning & Convergence Minister Rajendra Dholakia said, “It is a matter of the Parliamentary Affairs Department and the concerned minister might have brought it to the notice of CM. It is not appropriate on my part to comment on it.”

On the allegations of step-motherly attitude toward Western Odisha, the Minister said, “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has always given importance to Western Odisha. Be it medical colleges in Kalahandi and Bolangir, there are several examples that show that the allegations are not justified.”

Nuakhai is an important agrarian festival of western Odisha and it is celebrated with pomp and gaiety in several districts, including Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Kalahandi, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Boudh and Sonepur.

The Speaker election is scheduled to take place on September 21 following the resignation of Bikram Keshari Arukha on May 12.