Uprore in assembly over drought package

Bhubaneswar: Odisha assembly today witnessed an uproar by opposition Congress members who accused the government of keeping the house in dark on the drought package. The issue was raised during the question hour when the Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro was replying to a question on the government`s preparedness to tackle the heat wave conditions during the summer.

Accusing the state government of keeping the House in dark, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress said that the Special Relief Commission (SRC) office had issued a notice on drought package for the farmers on February 29.

"The government is not taking the House into confidence. They could have make the announcement in the assembly before SRC issuing the notice. We came to know about the package from the media on March 2," Singh said adding that he and some other members had wanted to know about the package on the last day of the session`s first phase.

Later Congress MLAs went to the well of the house and shouted slogans by holding placards. As the angry opposition members attempted to climb onto the Speaker`s podium, the house was adjourned for the first time till 11.50 am. They had a tussle with the security staff who prevented the MLAs in rushing to the Speaker`s dais.

The scene was repeated when the house reassembled. Revenue Minister Patro`s attempt to pacify the oposition by giving a reply failed to yield any result. Deputy Speaker Sadan Marandi`s repeated appeal to opposition members to vacate the well of the house also could not bring normalcy in the house. Protesting the government`s claim that it did not "dishonour" the House by issuing notification on drought package, Congress members staged a walkout.

In his statement, the minister said that the package had nothing new, but repeatation of facts earlier announced by the government in December, 2011. "The government could not make announcement on the drought package due to model code of conduct for the panchayat polls," the minister said. BJP legislature party leader K V Singhdeo and NCP leader Amar Prasad Satapathy asked the minister to place the copy of the state election commissioner`s order preventing the government to make any announcement on drought package in the house.

"How can the SEC prevent the government to make annoucement during natural calamities. As the House is supreme, the SEC cannot put any restriction on the government, particulraly during natural calamities," Satapathy said. The minister, on the other hand, said that he had a telephonic conversation with the SEC regarding the model code of conduct before replying questions on the drought package.