Members unhappy over delay in celebration of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary

Bhubaneswar: Members cutting across party lines on Monday expressed displeasure in the Odisha Assembly over delay in beginning of the celebrations marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in a big way.

The issue was raised by Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra during Zero Hour which was supported by the MLAs of his party apart from members of BJP and also ruling BJD.

Though the Odisha government last year decided to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi for two years from October 2, 2018, no such activities is being done, Mishra said alleging that the state government has apparently forgotten its earlier announcement.

Mishra said though a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was formed for the celebration, the government has not taken up any such step to celebrate it in a big way.

“The committee held just one meeting and there was no other activity,” he alleged.

The House, however, witnessed chaos when Mishra apparently targeted BJP on Mahatma Gandhi issue.

“There is a conspiracy to ensure that people forget Mahatma Gandhi. It is a matter of great concern that on Mahatma’s death anniversary on January 30, bullets were fired at his photograph. On the other hand Mahatma’s killer Nathuram Godse is being worshiped and his ideology boosted by a section of people in the party now ruling at the Centre,” Mishra said.

BJP deputy leader B C Sethi demanded that Mishra’s statement be expunged from the Assembly record.

“Mahatma Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse who belonged to Hindu Mahasabha which has nothing to do with RSS or the BJP. The ruling party at the Centre has highest regard for Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Ambedkar and other patriots,” Sethi said.

The BJP leader demanded a full debate in the House to discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology. “We are ready for a debate.

No one should teach us (BJP) on patriotism and nationalism,” Sethi said.

Sethi was supported by Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik of BJP. He said: “We have not forgotten Mahatma Gandhi. Prime Minister has himself praised Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar several times.”

BJD members Debi Prasad Mishra, Amar Prasad Satpathy, Bhupinder Singh, Pradeep Maharathy and Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak also admitted that the celebration for Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary has not yet started in the state “The delay was mostly due to elections and other development,” the BJD members said.

Debi Prasad Mishra said there should be a special session of the Assembly to discuss on Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologies while Nayak claimed Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the first leader in the country to demand inclusion of “Ahimsa” (non-violence) in the Preambles of the Indian Constitution.

Earlier, Nayak said the state government has already set up five sub-committees for the celebration of the anniversary in a grand manner.

It is proposed to conduct padayatras and memorial meetings across the state. Gandhiji’s birth anniversary would be celebrated in schools, colleges, urban local bodies, blocks and gram panchayats. A new website will be opened to propagate the messages of Gandhiji, the ruling party members said.