Normalcy likely to return Odisha Assembly after BJP MLAs meet CM

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 18 (PTI) Odisha Assembly Speaker S N Patro on Thursday said that he is hopeful on the return of normalcy in the House after the agitating BJP MLAs met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, following which the co-operation minister was asked to give a statement on paddy procurement.

Patro, who presided over an all-party meeting in the Assembly said that he has already asked food supplies, consumer welfare and cooperation minister R P Swain to give a statement in the House on the latest data on the procurement of paddy in the state.

This apart, Patro said, it has been decided not to raise the Deogarh BJP MLA Subhas Panigrahis suicide bid issue in the Assembly now.

'The issue relating to the BJP MLA's suicide bid will not be raised in the House. I will announce the formation of a privilege committee in the House tomorrow. The committee will take up the case of Panigrahi and give its opinion. I hope that the House will function normally hereafter,' Patro said.

During the agitating BJP members meeting with the chief minister earlier in the day, Patnaik said that the Speaker will hold an all-party meeting to resolve the issues that led to a stalemate in the Assembly for the sixth consecutive day.

The House remained almost paralysed for six days as the opposition BJP and Congress demanded immediate lifting of farmers' paddy lying in different state-run mandis across the state. During the protest, BJP MLA Subhas Panigrahi has made a suicide bid by attempting to drink sanitiser in the House on March 12.

Since Panigrahi's suicide bid, ruling BJD members had virtually kept the House paralysed demanding an apology from the MLA claiming that his act was against the dignity of the Assembly.

However, the situation reached its zenith when the BJP MLAs led by the Leader of Opposition P K Naik started a walkathon from the Assembly in search of the chief minister, who they alleged was not seen in the House even though he attends programmes at places 500 kilometres away from the state capital.

'As the leader of the house, it is the responsibility of the chief minister to resolve the issue,' said Naik of the BJP.

The BJP MLAs first walked to the state secretariat Lok Seba Bhawan and then to Naveen Niwas, the residence of Patnaik, after not getting him in the CM's office.

As the gates of Naveen Niwas were closed, BJP MLAs staged a sit-in in front of Patnaik's residence.

Law Minister Pratap Jena's statement that the BJP members' sins will be washed away by visiting Naveen Niwas irked the saffron party lawmakers, who refused to enter the residence of Patnaik even after opening of the gate.

The opposition members finally entered the house after Patnaik himself walked to them near the gate and invited them inside.

The BJP members held a discussion for a few minutes with Patnaik and returned.

After the discussion, Naik said, 'We had a comprehensive discussion with the CM inside his residence on farmers issues.' Asked about the BJD's demand for an apology by Panigrahi, Naik said, 'Nothing of that sort was discussed in the meeting. The CM should apologise as a legislator of his state attempted suicide over farmers' issue.' Senior BJD leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha said, ' We hope the Odisha assembly will now function normally.' The stalemate in the assembly entered sixth day on Thursday as the opposition members started agitating in the well while treasury bench MLAs shouted slogans demanding an apology from Panigrahi while standing in their respective seats.

Following the ruckus during the Question Hour, Speaker S N Patro adjourned the House thrice till 4 pm. When the house reassembled, he again adjourned the proceedings several times.

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