BJD demands MLA s apology for suicide attempt inside Assembly, BJP asks CM to express regret

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(Incorporating fresh details, with new opening and second paras) Bhubaneswar, Mar 15 (PTI) The Odisha Assembly failed to transact any business for the third successive day on Monday as the House plunged into turmoil over the attempt by a lawmaker of opposition BJP to commit suicide inside the House.

Speaker S N Patro unable to conduct the proceedings of the day annouced five adjournments and finally till Tuesday in the wake of noisy protests by ruling BJD and opposition Congress and BJP MLAs.

Ruckus broke out as soon as the house assembled for the question hour at 10.30 am. Both treasury and opposition benches shouted slogans in the well of the house.

The BJD MLAs vociferously demanded unconditional apology from BJP MLA Subhas Panigrahi for attempting suicide in the House on Friday over alleged mismanagement in paddy procurement by the government.

Panigrahi had tried to take his life by consuming sanitiser in the House while protesting against the state government's alleged apathy towards farmers who are reportedly not being able to sell their paddy in mandis across the state.

The saffron party members on the other hand demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expresses regret for his government's 'inability' to ensure smooth procurement of paddy from farmers despite assurances.

The BJD members led by party general secretary (organisation) P P Das trooped into the well of the House and demanded apology from the Deogarh lawmaker for setting a bad precedent by attempting suicide inside the House.

'We will not allow the House to function till the BJP MLA tenders apology. He has brought down the dignity of the august House. The BJP members are trying to take political advantage by making such an (suicide) attempt,' Government chief whip Pramila Mallick told reporters outside the House.

Patro had said outside the House on Sunday that the BJP MLA should tender an apology for committing a mistake by making suicide bid in the House. He had also said that Panigrahi should apologise to bring back normalcy in the House.

Monday was the second day that the ruling BJD, which has 113 members in the 147-seat House stalled the proceedings demanding the BJP MLA's apology for his act.

Leader of Opposition P K Naik of BJP rejected the treasury bench's demand and said there was no question of his party colleague apologising. 'Instead the chief minister should regret his government's failure to address the genuine problems faced by the farmers, who are not able to sell their paddy in mandis despite the government's assurance'.

Naik also sought clarification from the chief minister on why the ministers staged agitation in the House on Friday.

'Is the ministers' protest in the well of the House in accordance with the dignity of the House? Let the people decide how the House is run here. There is no attempt to bring back normalcy. The speaker has not convened an all-party meeting despite the ruckus for the third successive day,' he said.

Naik also denounced the speaker's remark outside the House. The speaker should tender an apology for his statement that the BJP MLA should apologise.

Hitting out at the chief minister, Naik said 'He is visiting Puri, Sundergarh and Nuapada, but avoiding the House on the pretext of corona'.

Tokens issued to the farmers for paddy procurement have lapsed but the government has not procured paddy from them, he said.

Congress whip Taraprasad Bahinipati, who displayed some placards in the House, blamed both BJD and BJP for the situation.

'These people are making a farce out of the miseries of the farmers, who are attempting suicide. Even an MLA made such a bid in the House. It is laughable that both BJD and BJP are demanding an apology from each other, while farmers' problems are not addressed', he said.

Bahinipati said that both BJD and BJP are cheating the people and Congress will not allow the House to function unless farmers' paddy are totally procured by the government.