Day 2 of Odisha assembly drowns in din over paddy procurement

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(Eds: Updating with fresh inputs) Bhubaneswar, Feb 19 (PTI) The second day of the Odisha Assemblys budget session was washed away due to a ruckus created by the opposition BJP and Congress members who demanded immediate lifting of paddy from various state-run mandis.

The assembly failed to transact any business during the day as opposition MLAs refused to accept Speaker S N Patro's repeated requests to participate in the proceedings, prompting him to adjourn the House several times in the pre- lunch and post-lunch period.

The Speaker convened an all-party meeting to resolve the stalemate but no agreement could be achieved.

While Congress members demanded that the House accept their notice for discussion on alleged irregularities in the paddy procurement process suspending all other businesses, BJP MLAs wanted an announcement from the government that all paddy bags lying in mandis will be lifted within 7 days.

As Speaker Patro did not accept notices of the Congress and the BJP and wanted the Question Hour to begin, the opposition members started raising slogans against the BJD government, alleging that it did not procure paddy from farmers, due to which they incurred huge losses.

The saffron party members also alleged that farmers have been waiting at the government-run mandis for several days but unable to sell their produce as the regulated markets have stocks of the crop.

Congress legislators led by the party's chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati trooped to the well of the House over the paddy procurement issues and attempted to climb the Speaker's podium.

A few of them tried to remove the fibre shield placed before the Speaker's chair and made efforts to snatch papers from his desk.

Speaker S N Patro's request to members seeking their cooperation failed to yield any result forcing him to announce two adjournments during the pre-lunch session and at least seven back to back adjournments in the post-lunch session before convening the all-party meeting.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said that his party will not allow any transaction in the House until the government comes up for a detailed discussion on the issue after suspending all other businesses.

'We will not allow the House to function until all the paddy bags are cleared from the mandis,' Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati said.

Outside the House, Leader of Opposition P K Naik of the BJP said, 'We will not cooperate unless the government gives an assurance to the House that all paddy bags lying in mandis will be lifted within seven days.' 'It is strange that the government has not been able to procure Kharif paddy from farmers even as the Rabi crop season has already started,' he said.

BJP deputy leader in the House BC Sethi said, 'The Centre has been providing funds for paddy procurement, but the state government is not properly utilising the money.' BJD vice-president and senior member Debi Prasad Mishra said, 'The opposition members can raise the issue but they are disrupting the proceedings, which is not desired.' PTI AAM NN NN