‘Zero’ in Assembly CM posing as ‘hero’ outside: LoP

Bhubaneswar: Launching a broadside against chief minister Naveen Patnaik, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Narasingha Mishra today said the manner in which the leader of the House gave his statement outside the State Assembly after it was adjourned sine die yesterday, was ‘grossly unfortunate’.

“Despite our repeated requests to the chief minister to give his statement in the House, he did not give his reply and preferred to give his statement to the media outside the State Assembly. We had also requested him to attend the all-party meeting. Though he finally did attend the last leg of the meeting, he did not utter a single word. It is up to the people of the state to decide how far the decision of the chief minister, who instead of giving his statement in the House gave his statement to the media, is justified,” Mishra told media persons here.

He also said judging by the attitude of the chief minister, people now have a feeling that the chief minister, who is a big ‘zero’ in the Assembly, is trying to become a ‘hero’ outside the Assembly.

Mishra said on the very first day of the second phase budget session of the State Assembly on May 26, the Congress had urged the Speaker to allow an adjournment motion to discuss the issues relating to the refund of money of about 20 lakh duped investors who had deposited their hard-earned money in the chit fund companies and action to be taken against these chit fund companies for their illegal act.

“Unfortunately, the Speaker, influenced by the state government, did not allow the topic for discussion for which we had protested inside the well of the House. It is the duty and responsibility of the state government to protect the properties of the people as per the Constitution. Instead of protecting their properties, the state government had promoted and patronised these chit fund companies. This is not the view of the Congress, but that of a senior BJD leader expressed to the media recently. Considering this, it is obvious that the state government will never want to have a discussion on this issue in the House,” Mishra observed.

Criticising the state government for its inaction in the refund of money to the duped investors, Mishra said the government in 2013 had appointed Justice RK Patra as the chairman of the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry to probe into the involvement of influential persons, bureaucrats, political parties and leaders. Besides, the Commission was asked to find out a mechanism to identify the duped investors and refund their money they had deposited in the chit fund company.

“After the death of Justice Patra, the state government, in a bid to hoodwink the people and keeping the Assembly elections in view, had appointed Justice MM Das as the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry. But after the election, the government did not take any tangible step. Finally, the government, made its intention clear through Justice Das, who, as its mouthpiece, said that the investors – and not anyone else – are responsible for the chit fund scam and the ruling government and its leaders are not to be blamed. We raised the issue in the State Assembly and demanded a discussion. If the government is not willing for a discussion, let the chief minister at least make a statement on this issue. Why did the chief minister, instead of giving reply, behave as an escapist? Why didn’t he come to the House?” Mishra asked.

He said the Congress had also raised the issue regarding deposit of Rs 8 crore in the BJD bank account in the House and sought a reply from the chief minister on who had deposited such a huge amount on a single day. “But instead of giving reply to our question, the chief minister asked his party leaders to give a reply on his behalf and they used derogatory words against the Opposition leader,” he said.

“The chief minister, in his statement to the media yesterday has alleged that the Opposition did not allow the government to run the House. What I want to say is that it is the government which has the primary responsibility to run the House. The Opposition members had participated in the demand discussions. But when the chit fund issue was raised, the government through the Speaker did not allow a debate on this issue. Is this the democratic tradition?” Mishra wondered.

The Opposition leader further said the Opposition had urged the state government to accord Odia the status of the official language of the state and promulgate an ordinance to frame rules. But the government turned a deaf ear to the demand of the Opposition. “Is this demand of the Opposition anti-people? Let the people of Odisha decide on this matter,” he observed.

Reacting to the statement of Mishra, BJD spokesperson Pratp Jena said the people of the state would blame the Opposition for their disruptive act. “The Opposition is trying to formulate strategies for its self-defence,” he added.

Countering the statement of the Opposition leader, he said the chief minister is a ‘hero’ as he has been working for the people of the state.

Stating that the Opposition leader had no control over his party members, he said it is the BJD, not the Congress, which has immense faith in democracy