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Unwell Members@Virtual Presence

Bhubaneswar: Speaker of the Odisha Legislative Assembly, Bikram Kesari Arukha has said unwell Members will be allowed to attend House in Virtual Mode. He was speaking in the all Party Meeting, which was attended by BJD, BJP, Congress and Other Members.

BJP Lawmakers walked out of the all Party Meeting opposing such a move. This is the inkling of unrest, stored for the Budget Session.

So it seems that the Assembly Budget session, which will start from Tuesday, will be stormy as Opposition BJP and Congress have decided to create a ruckus in the House over sensational murder of Minister Naba Kishore Das in broad daylight.  

Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra, who has been attacking the government over the murder case since the incident, has already informed the media that he will expose the government in the House.

The BJP on Monday held its legislative party meeting while BJD and Congress would hold their meetings tomorrow to prepare strategies for the budget session.

The BJP has decided to raise a number of issues including murder of Naba Das, law and order situation, farmers’ plight, irregularities in Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), said BJP Chief Whip Mohan Majhi.

Congress will also raise the murder case. A day before the beginning of the session, Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra has slammed the BJD Government over the Minister’s murder case.

Stating the main issue for the budget session is deteriorating law and order situation in the State, Shri Mishra said, “The Government, which has failed to protect its own Minister, how can it provide safe and security to the people and their property?”

The Congress Legislature Party leader said the law and order situation has collapsed in the State. The killing of Naba das in broad daylight by a policeman showed that ‘Jungle Raj’ prevails in the State, he stated.

Shri Mishra alleged that Minister’s murder was not accidental. “It did not occur all of a sudden, but as a result of a big conspiracy,” claimed he. The Congress leader also said that the Minister died on spot. He informed that this issue will be raised by his party during the session.

On the other hand, the Treasury Bench has decided to raise the central neglect issue to counter the Opposition. The Governing party would raise reduction of the budgetary allocation for paddy procurement and discontinuation of distribution of 5 kg free rice under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

The BJD will also raise the issue relating to Jayanarayan Mishra, who allegedly manhandled a lady police officer, said Government Chief Whip Prasanta Kumar Muduli. The regional party has been demanding an apology from LOP Shri Mishra for his alleged misbehavior to a lady cop during a protest. 

The ire of Opposition BJP also reflected during the all-party meeting held under the chairmanship of Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukha here at Assembly Conference Hall on Monday.

Opposition BJP legislators walked out of the all-party meeting protesting the decision of the Speaker to allow unwell members to attend the proceedings of the House in virtual mode.

“As Covid-19 has subsided substantially and restrictions have been withdrawn, there is no need to allow any member to participate in House proceedings through virtual mode,” Leader of Opposition Jaynarayan Mishra of BJP said.

Pointing out that no State Legislative Assembly or Parliament now allows members to attend the House proceedings through virtual mode, Shri Mishra said therefore, the Odisha Assembly should also follow the All-India practice, and ask all legislators to be physically present in the House instead of attending it from their homes.

 “They (Treasury Bench Members) are not listening to any of our issues and are doing whatever they want due to their majority in the House. Since they are not ready to listen to us, we walked out of the all-party meeting,” Shri Mishra told reporters after attending the meeting.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said his party is of the opinion that MLAs who are sick should be allowed to participate in the House through virtual mode.

“I am 83 years old and shall attend the proceedings of the House in person. All members should attend the proceedings in person and exceptions should be there only for sick members,” he said.

The all-party meeting should be convened by the Leader of the House (Chief Minister) and not the Speaker, the Congress Lawmaker pointed out.

Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Shri Arukha said all the members can attend the Assembly proceedings occupying their respective seats. The MLAs, who are unwell, can attend the Assembly through video conferencing (VC) mode, he said. 

The press gallery will also be opened for media persons. This time, it was decided to allow the general public to witness the Assembly proceedings as it was done during pre-Covid time, the Speaker said.

Shri Arukha said that he called upon all the members to cooperate for the smooth functioning of the session beginning from February 21.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Niranjan Pujari claimed that the all-party meeting convened by the Speaker was smooth.

Of the 16-point agenda, agreement was reached on 15 of them while there was a difference of opinion on one issue concerning allowing members to attend the proceeding through virtual mode.

Meanwhile, DGP Sunil Bansal reviewed the security arrangements made for the budget session. Shri Bansal said three-tier security cover will be put in place in and around the Assembly for the session

The inside cordon will be looked after by the special branch, while the Commissionerate Police will look after the outer and inner cordons, he said.

Besides, five police control rooms have been set up and proper traffic arrangements also made, the DGP informed.

Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Police Commissioner Saumendra Kumar Priyadarshi said about 30 platoons of police force including two DCPs, 10 additional DCPs, 11 ACPs, 13 inspectors will be deployed for the session. Tight security arrangements have also been made at Mahatma Gandhi Marg, where a large number of protests are being held when the Assembly is in session, he added.  

The Budget session will be held in two phases from February 21 and to April 6. The session will start with the address of Governor Ganeshi Lal on February 21 while the Annual Budget for the year 2023-24 will be presented on February 24.