Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came down heavily on the Odisha government a day after the latter invoked the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act (ESMA) to prohibit protests and agitations by nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, technicians, and other class-III and class-IV employees in the health sector so that medical services are not disrupted.

Addressing a presser in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, BJP leader Dillip Mallick said, "The state government is browbeating the health employees. The state is not going through any kind of emergencies like floods and cyclones. Hence there is no justification to impose ESMA on the healthcare employees.”

He also alleged that such a way of giving indirect threats to the health employees exposed the inner fears of the government at a time when the healthcare system across the state is in disarray. The government fears that the health employees may stage protests and ESMA would be a tool to suppress their freedom of asking for their rights, he added.

Congress legislator Sura Routray demanded that the government should fulfil the demands of the health employees. “Giving threats to them will serve no purpose. They are rendering their services to the people. I don’t think it wise to forcibly invoke ESMA against them,” he observed.

On the other hand, BJD legislator Bhupinder Singh said that the government is looking into the grievances of the people. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has never forced anything against the will of the people, he added.