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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: A day after Labour Minister Susant Singh and deputy government chief whip Rohit Pujari, announced about relaxation of centralised token system in select areas following a discussion with the agitating farmers in Sambalpur and Bargarh, the Assembly today witnessed noisy scenes with Opposition leaders questioning the motive behind sending both of them for a discussion without taking the House into confidence.

Raising paddy procurement issue in the Assembly, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik drew the attention of the Speaker and said, "Labour Minister and deputy chief whip of government held talks with the farmers without a unanimous decision in Assembly. We need a clarification whether they represented the government or the party."

“Who had sent them amid Assembly session? Was it CM Naveen Patnaik or was it the department Minister? All this has posed a threat to the Constitutional vows. Action should be taken against those who have disrespected the Assembly,” rued BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra.

Even Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja trained his guns on the government saying, “Under what circumstances, did the two legislators announce about relaxation without taking the House into confidence? We demand a statement from the Supplies Minister in this regard.”

In reply, government chief whip Pramila Mallick maintained that whatever Labour Minister Susant Singh said was his personal take. “The House will discuss after both of them attend the proceedings next. For now, I have had a discussion with the concerned minister and he will submit a reply on Monday.”

"I don’t have complete information regarding paddy procurement in the State now. I will brief the House with updated facts on Monday," said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain in the Assembly.

The week-long agitation in Sambalpur and Bargarh ended on Thursday after the Odisha government accepted their demand of allowing paddy sale in the state-operated market yard, without the centralised token. The tokens will now be generated for farmers who have not received them yet, at the market yard, after they come with their paddy, officials said.

Reportedly after a discussion with the agitators yesterday, the Labour Minister had said that the centralised token policy has been formulated for the entire state and it cannot be repealed, but relaxed for some areas. "Considering their demands, we have made some relaxation for the farmers of Hirakud command area. A decision has been taken to make arrangements to procure paddy from even those farmers, who come to the market yard without the tokens. No farmer will be sent back on the pretext of the centralised token," he had said.

Under the centralised token system, the tokens are sent to the registered mobile numbers of the farmers. The date of selling paddy and its quantity will also be mentioned in the token.

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