Woman MLA accuses minister of using unparliamentary words

Bhubaneswar: Opposition BJP’s lone woman MLA Radharani Panda today accused Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy of using unparliamentary words against her when she was raising slogans against the government in the well of the House.

“Maharathy made unacceptable remarks. His words were derogatory against any woman,” Panda, BJP MLA from Brajrajnagar segment in Jharsuguda district, told reporters adding that she felt humiliated and insulted over the incident.

The war of words followed adjournment of the House by Speaker Niranjan Pujari in wake of pandemonium over the chitfund scam.

“If a woman MLA’s dignity is not protected in the assembly, what about the women across the state,” she asked, adding that the minister has tendered an apology for the mistake.

However, refuting the allegations and Panda’s claims that he had apologised, Maharathy said, “When I have not used any objectionable remarks against Panda, there is no question of tendering apology. She might have heard something wrong amidst the din”.

The agriculture minister also said the authorities of the Assembly are free to check the recording of the House and added he had requested the woman legislator not to raise voice against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as she was brought to politics by his father late Biju Patnaik.

“I rather suggested her (Panda) to get herself busy in arrangement of her daughter’s marriage instead of raising slogan against the Chief Minister,” Maharathy said.

When the House reassembled at 3 PM, eight of the 10 BJP MLAs including Panda sat on a dharna in the well of the House seeking a ruling from the Speaker over the incident.

“Odisha Assembly never before had witnessed this kind of behaviour from a minister towards a female member. We not only strongly condemn the incident but also request you as the custodian of the dignity of the House to reprimand the concerned minister,” BJP Legislature Party leader Basant Kumar Panda said in a letter to Speaker Niranjan Pujari.

The letter also stated the leader of the House should assure that such incidents will not be repeated in future.

Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress also said any disrespect towards a female member was a “shame” for all.

Mishra urged the Speaker to adjourn the House and take stock of the situation arising out of the alleged humiliation of the MLA.

Speaker Pujari assured the members that he would discuss the matter with concerned members.