Cong loses in vote over Lokpal amendment, claims moral victory

Bhubaneswar: The opposition Congress on Friday lost in a division of vote on an amendment in the Orissa Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2010, but claimed a moral victory over the ruling BJD.

While Congress got 19 votes in favour of amending the Bill, which proposed tabling of the Lokpal`s annual activity report during last session of the assembly every year, 55 BJD MLAs opposed it.

Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan, as a private member, had introduced the Bill in 2010 and it was taken up for discussion under the category of Private Members` Business on Friday.

School and Mass Education minister Rabi Nanda who was replying on behalf of pension and grievance minister Ramesh Majhi urged Harichandan to withdraw the amendment.

The amendment also sought tabling of special reports of Lokpal within three months of being submitted to the government.

As the Congress member refused to withdraw, Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat sought voice vote over it. As soon as his party lost in the voice vote, Harichandan demanded division of vote.

"We know about our number in the house. Still we pressed for a division to show that ruling BJD is against a strong Lokpal. This is our moral victory," claimed Prasad Harichandan after his party lost in the vote.

Though Odisha introduced a Lokpal and Lokayukta institution in the state since 1995, the state government did not care to table reports in the assembly regularly, he alleged.

Citing an instance, the Congress leader said though the Lokpal had submitted its special report to the state government on the Vedanta University in May 2011, it was not tabled in the House so far.

"Governor himself has written four times to government for tabling of the report. But this government did not oblige the order," he said.

Had there been a timeframe in the Orissa Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 1995, for tabling the special report in the house, the government could not avoid it, he said.