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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: As expected, the second phase of the Budget Session of the Odisha Assembly began Wednesday on a stormy note. While Opposition BJP moved adjournment notice over Odisha government's decision to park funds of Lord Jagannath in crisis-hit Yes Bank, Congress too created ruckus seeking an explanation from the Naveen-led BJD government over the issue.

Immediately after the House made obituary references to three of its deceased members- Bira Sipka, Bijaya Kumar Nayak and Prahlad Behera, the Congress legislators rushed to the Well of the House raising 'Jai Jagannath', 'Jagannatha nka tanka khaila kie? (Who stole Jagannath's money?)' slogans and demanded stringent action against officers responsible for transfer of Srimandir's Rs 545- crore funds to Yes Bank from a nationalised bank. This apart, they sought a statement from CM Naveen Patnaik in this regard.

Also Read: Srimandir Funds In Yes Bank: BJD MPs Meet FM Nirmala Sitharaman

The BJP MLAs too cornered the ruling-BJD and moved an adjournment notice seeking a clarification from the state government as to why it allowed the SJTA to deposit the Lord's money in a private bank.

As the legislators refused to budge, the proceedings were stalled first till 12.30 pm, then till 3 pm and finally for the day.

Speaking to media, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik said the BJD government violated the provisions of Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 by depositing Lord Jagannath's money in a private bank.

Deputy leader of the BJP, Bishnu Sethi alleged that there was a kickback of Rs 3 crore involved in the deposit of Lord Jagannath's funds in Yes Bank.

"The House was adjourned in the blink of an eye. Immediately after the proceedings started, Congress MLAs rushed to the Well of the House and it looked as if the Speaker was predetermined to adjourn the House. BJD has found scapegoats in Congress to deal with discussion on fate of Srimandir funds in Yes Bank," said Sethi.

Rs 545 crore fund of Puri Srimandir parked in Yes Bank is gone now, is what Odisha Congress leader Tara Bahinipati said alleging a tacit deal between BJP and BJD resulting in the crisis.

Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said the chief minister should make a statement in the House to clarify what would be the fate of the funds. "The government should frame a time limit assuring when exactly the lost fund can be retrieved from Yes Bank," he said.

In response, government chief whip Pramila Mallik said, "It's the Congress and BJP who share a close bonhomie. BJD has no such agenda. Congress MLAs feel it is their duty to create ruckus in House. They should know that the government is always open for a discussion in the House to resolve issues concerning people."

Meanwhile, a delegation of BJD MPs led by Prasanna Acharya met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi seeking her assistance in the withdrawal of Srimandir funds from Yes Bank. "We have apprised Nirmala ji of the situation. She has assured to take steps in this regard," informed Acharya.

According to sources, of the total Rs 626.44 crore, Rs 592 crore was kept in Yes Bank. While Rs 545 crore was in the bank as fixed deposits, the remaining Rs 47 crore was in a flexi account. The money kept in the flexi account has been withdrawn and the remaining Rs 545 crore will be transferred to a nationalised bank in two phases after their maturities on March 16 and March 29, Odisha law minister had said.

The RBI has capped withdrawals from Yes Bank at Rs 50,000 and imposed limits on operations after the cash-starved lender faced "regular outflow of liquidity" following an effort to raise new capital failed.

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