Odisha minister, ruling-BJD MLA cross swords in Assembly

Bhubaneswar: In what could be arguably termed as an embarrassment for the ruling-BJD, party MLA Pradeep Maharathy and Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari faced off in the Odisha Assembly today.

During the Question Hour, Pipili MLA Maharathy wanted to know about the number of functional cold storages and the steps taken by the state government to revive the defunct ones. Moreover, Maharathy, who is the former Agriculture Minister, also took Pujari off-guard when he asked how many MoUs the State government has signed with foreign countries to increase pulses and oilseed production.

“To increase production of pulses and oilseeds, how many MoUs the State government has signed with how many countries. This apart, what steps the State has taken to increase potato production,” Maharathy asked in Assembly today.

Pujari, who responded to the queries on behalf of Food Supplies Minister Ranendra Swain, took a jibe and said Maharathy has a doctorate in Agriculture department. During Maharathy’s tenure as Agriculture Minister the potato mission was launched and the mission ended after his tenure.

Besides, Pujari informed the House that out of 128 cold storages, only 48 are functional in the State whereas 80 have closed down.

“He (Maharathy) was the minister of the department and holds a doctorate on that. The potato mission, which was started when Maharathy was the minister, ended with his tenure as well,” replied Pujari, adding that the State government is trying to revive the defunct cold storages.