Pandemonium in Odisha Assembly over paddy 'mismanagement', BJP MLA's attempted suicide

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 13 (PTI) Pandemonium was witnessed in Odisha Assembly on Saturday as both opposition and ruling party MLAs including ministers trooped down to the well, with the Congress and BJP legislators demanding that the government immediately lift paddy from mandis and the BJD lawmakers seeking an apology from a BJP member for attempting to commit suicide in the House on the previous day.

Unable to run the proceedings, Speaker S N Patro adjourned the House twice till the post-lunch session at 4 pm.

As soon as the Assembly convened for Question Hour around 10.30 am, Congress members led by its whip Taraprasad Bahinipati rushed to the well of the House demanding immediate action to ensure that farmers don't suffer due to the 'faulty' policy of the government.

BJP members also joined them and started raising anti-government slogans, as some Congress MLAs attempted to climb onto the Speaker's podium but were prevented by the marshals from doing so.

At this point, treasury bench members including ministers and government chief whip Pramila Mallick, who were till now demanding an apology from Deogarh MLA Subhas Panigrahi from their respective seats, also trooped down to the well of the House to put forth their demand.

The BJD legislators, whose strength is 113 in the 147 -member Assembly, said they won't allow the House to function till Panigrahi apologises for attempting to drink sanitiser in the House on Friday.

Reacting to this, Bahinipati said, 'This is the first instance of BJD ministers creating a ruckus in the well of the House. We will also not allow the Assembly to function till they apologise. Ministers staging agitation in the well is against the tradition and practice of this August House.' The speaker then adjourned the House till 11.30 am. As soon as the House reconvened, the ruckus began again, forcing Patro to adjourn it till 4 pm.

While agitating against the token system in paddy procurement along with other BJP MLAs, Panigrahi had attempted to end his life in protest against the government's 'failure' to address issues related to paddy procurement.

Panigrahi was prevented by his party colleagues from drinking sanitiser, while Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha and government chief whip Pramila Mallick snatched the bottle from him.

Only farmers who get tokens from the government can sell their paddy in mandis. The BJP members alleged that the agriculturists do not get tokens on time despite waiting for days at the mandis.

Speaking outside the House, BJP whip Mohan Majhi said, 'There is no question of Panigrahi tendering an apology. They have the power to suspend the member. But he has not done anything wrong. He was protesting against the government's apathy towards farmers.' Supporting the BJP, Bahinipati said, 'We will not demand an apology from Panigrahi. He attempted to commit suicide because the government is not addressing the grievance of the farmers. As the farmers are ready to commit suicide, their people's representative also made a similar attempt in the House.' BJD lawmaker and former minister P K Deb, however, said that the ruling party condemns Panigrahi's act as it has brought a bad name to the Assembly and the state.

'The elected members come to the House to raise people's issues and not to set a bad trend,' he added. PTI AAM ACD ACD