Odisha Assembly suspends Cong MLA for 7 days

Bhubaneswar: Senior Congress legislator Santosh Singh Saluja was on Wednesday suspended from the Odisha Assembly for seven days for making an objectionable remark against Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat.

The Congress MLA made the remark during zero hour as the Speaker allowed government deputy chief whip Sanjay Dasburma to speak instead of any member from the opposition side.

Seeking suspension of Saluja for seven days from the House, government Chief Whip Pravat Tripathy moved a motion in the Assembly which was passed by voice vote.

"The Congress legislator's remark showed disrespect to the Chair," Tripathy said.

While members cutting across party lines denounced Saluja's remarks, the Congress law-maker refused to withdraw his words.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said the Congress Legislature Party did not endorse Saluja's remarks.

Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan objected to the manner in which the government Chief Whip moved the motion in the House.

"The motion was moved at a time when the opposition members were out of the House. The Congress members had walked out of the House after expressing displeasure over the food and supplies minister's reply on an adjournment debate," Harichandan said.

The Leader of the Opposition also criticised the suspension.

"The MLA concerned should have been given a hearing in the House before the Speaker declared his suspension for seven days," Singh said.

Saluja, representing Kantabanji segment in Bolangir district, however, refused to apologise for the remark.

Speaking outside the House, Saluja said opposition members were being constantly denied permission to speak and alleged the Speaker was working in a partisan manner.

"I lost my temper as the Speaker did not allow me to raise the issue of poverty-stricken people of western Odisha", Saluja said.

Parliamentary Affairs minister Kalpataru Das, however, said there was no alternative but to suspend Saluja from the house for seven days as he had no regret for his remarks.