BJD, Cong demand apology from PM over ‘acute poverty’ remark

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Assembly today witnessed seven adjournments with both ruling BJD and the opposition Congress demanding apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remark about the state at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh.

When the House assembled for the Question Hour at 10.30 AM, BJD’s Samir Ranjan Dash raised the issue and dubbed the Prime Minister’s remark of ‘acute poverty and starvation’ in Odisha as “unfortunate” which amounted to an “insult of the people of Odisha”.

Dash was supported by other ruling party legislators, who were on their feet criticising Modi for his remark.

Opposition Congress also came out in support of the ruling BJD to oppose the Prime Minister’s statement. Congress Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati rose to denounce it as “shameful and inappropriate”.

The House witnessed pandemonium as Congress MLAs led by Bahinipati rushed to the well shouting slogans against Modi.

Some of them also unsuccessfully attempted to climb the Speaker’s podium.

Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House for the first time at 10.33 AM. The House was then adjourned at frequent intervals for seven times.

As the House stood adjourned, ruling BJD lawmakers, including ministers staged a dharna near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Assembly premises protesting against the Prime Minister’s remark, stating that it was in “bad taste”.

As the House was scheduled to pass the motion of thanks on the Governor’s address today, Pujari convened an all-party meeting to end the impasse.

However, Bahinipati shouted from the well of the House, saying that Congress would not allow the proceeding unless the Prime Minister tendered an unconditional apology for his “anti-Odisha” remark.

Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra (Congress) told reporters outside the House that Modi had acted in a “disgraceful manner” by attempting to derive political mileage using poverty in Odisha.

Also Read: Furore in Assembly over Modi’s poverty remark
“This (PM’s remark) is an insult on the Odisha’s pride,” said Law minister Arun Kumar Sahoo.

BJP, however, dismissed the criticism with party legislator Pradip Purohit claiming that people of Odisha have realised that the Naveen Patnaik regime had “failed” on all fronts.

Buoyed by the success of BJP in Odisha panchayat polls, Modi at an election rally in Gonda had said, “Odisha, where there is so much poverty, starvation, unemployment and where the BJP did not even have foothold to place its flag, people have given so much support that everyone is taken aback…even the poor of Odisha have come with the BJP.”