Cops evict SC/ST MLAs on dharna in Assembly

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Odisha Assembly has failed to transact any business for the last 10 days due to the deadlock over Opposition’s demand for chit fund commission head MM Das’ ouster and CM’s resignation, an unsavory scene was seen today in the Assembly building when security personnel forcibly lifted the SC/ST MLAs of Congress and BJP, who were sitting on a dharna since yesterday in front of CM’s chamber demanding implementation of Odisha Reservation of Vacancies (ORV) Act.

The striking legislators tried to waylay the chief minister while BJD lawmakers made a protective ring around him to thwart them. The ruling party members also prevented media persons from reporting the incident.

Protesting the act of the ruling party members, the agitating MLAs shifted their dharna place to the Speaker’s chamber. They said the agitation will intensify if the government fails to fulfill their demands.

Though the demands have a bearing on the interests of people belonging to SC/ST categories, no ST/SC legislator from the BJD took part in the dharna.

“They (SC/ST BJD MLAs) had signed the resolution to join us in the stir. But they have refrained from it for their self interest. The dalit people of the State will never excuse them,” said Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati, who was among the striking members.

On the other hand, Speaker Niranjan Pujari appealed to the legislators to withdraw the strike. Sitting on dharna on the Assembly premises contravenes rules, Pujari pointed out.

Leader of Opposition Narasing Mishra condemned the activities of security personel. “I condemned use of security forces to evict MLAs on dharna in Assembly. It is undemocratic”, Mishra said.

On the other hand, government chief whip Anant Das echoed Speaker’s views. “Resorting to hunger strike on Assembly premises is illegal. The protesting legislators have been evicted as per law”, Das said.

Demanding implementation of the ORV Act in Odisha, Congress and BJP MLAs have staged a dharna in front of the Chief Minister’s chamber at the State Assembly since yesterday.

The legislators of Opposition parties alleged though the State government had promised to reserve 38% of seats in Higher Education for SC and ST students,, the decision is not being implemented in medical and engineering courses.

Tribal Welfare minister Sudam Marandi and later SC&ST Development minister Lal Bihari Himrika had talked to the protesting legislators as per the directive of Speaker Niranjan Pujari yesterday. But the Opposition MLAs did not relent.

Meanwhile, BJP MLAs created pandemonium soon after the House reassembled for question hour wearing black jackets. Congress members too shouted in the well of the House forcing the Speaker to adjourn it till 3 pm.