Naveen moves notice on special category status for Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday moved a notice seeking the Speaker's permission for passage of a resolution in the Assembly demanding special category status for Odisha following an uproar over the issue in the House.

The ruling BJD's action came as the opposition Congress disrupted proceedings of the House for the entire day demanding a debate on the state's demand for special category status.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das said the House could take up the chief minister's notice on April 4.

The BJD also issued a whip to its members to be present in the House on April 3 and April 4.

The opposition Congress claimed that its Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan had already moved a similar notice for a resolution in the House on March 14.

"Though my notice was admitted, the Speaker is yet to take any decision on it. The chief minister's notice is only an afterthought," Harichandan said.

Das, however, claimed that the chief minister had earlier decided to move such a notice but could not do so because the House was debating budget demands of different departments.

Das also claimed that the BJD government was trying its best to obtain special category state status.

"Getting special category state status for Odisha was part of our election manifesto," he said blaming the Congress led UPA government for ignoring the state's interests.

Terming the BJD's efforts as crocodile tears, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress alleged that the state government had not taken up the issue in the House during the ongoing session.

Harichandan said that the Centre had already announced relaxation in criteria for according special category state status.

"Odisha should take this opportunity. We are ready to cooperate with the government," he said.

He, however, expressed concern over the Naveen Patnaik government "never holding an all party meeting" over any issue.

The Congress leaders claimed that two resolutions were passed in the assembly on special category status for Odisha in 1997 and 1998 when the BJD was not in power.

Harichandan said that Odisha was denied special category status by the previous central government when Uttarakhand got it in 2003 during NDA's tenure.

BJD was part of the NDA government till 2004, Harichandan said.

Earlier, the House witnessed pandemonium with Congress members protesting the Speaker's refusal to allow a debate on the demand for special category status to the state.