BJD-Cong clash in assembly

Bhubaneswar: Heated exchanges and a scuffle erupted between BJD and Congress members in Odisha Assembly on Tuesday over alleged manhandling of farmers outside the chief minister's residence and cut in allocation for the state in Railway budget leading to repeated adjournments.

Trouble broke out during zero hour after BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy drew the Chair's attention to Railways slashing allocation for the state.

Opposition Congress members rushed to the Well of the house shouting anti-government slogans and alleged that farmers were manhandled by the police yesterday while staging demonstration in front of the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

At this the BJD MLAs too were on their feet to oppose the charge and in the din that followed nothing could be heard.

The situation turned volatile when Maharathy too rushed to the Well followed by Pradip Panigrahi, Rajendra Das and other BJD MLAs and had a mild tussle with the Congress legislators.

In view of the heated situation, Speaker Pradip Amat adjourned the house first till 12.30 PM and then again till 3 PM. When the house reassembled at 3 PM, similar situation prevailed and was adjourned for the day.

Unable to raise the railway budget issue due to the din in the House, BJD MLAs later sat on a dharna near Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the assembly premises. .

"It is shocking that the police dragged agitating farmers on the road to remove them from the main gate of the CM's residence," Congress whip Prasad Harichandan told reporters outside the House.

"The government is shedding crocodile tears for farmers. Police assaulted them (farmers) in front of the CM's house yesterday," Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh alleged.

He demanded an all party meeting to review allocations made by UPA government and previous NDA regime to Railways.

"We are ready to go to Delhi with BJD members to put pressure on the Centre."

BJP legislative party leader K V Singhdeo blamed both the state government and the Centre for inadequate funds for Railway projects in Odisha. "State government should not confine itself to writing letters. It must visit Delhi and hold talks."

Meanwhile, the 60 farmers who had been taken into custody for their demonstration outside Patnaik's residence Naveen Niwas in the early hours yesterday, were granted bail by a local court during the day.