Odisha Assembly adjourned several times over high-handedness of officers

NewsDrum Desk
18 Mar 2023

Bhubaneswar, Mar 18 (PTI) Odisha Assembly for the second consecutive day on Saturday was adjourned several times over alleged high-handedness of officers and attempt to diminish the importance of people's representatives.

The issue was raised during Question Hour in the Assembly when CPI(M)'s lone MLA Laxman Munda staged a dharna in the Well of the House demanding action against Koida Block Development Officer (BDO), who allegedly misbehaved with him.

Supported by Congress and BJP members, Munda rushed to the Well of the House and demanded action against the officer who allegedly misbehaved with people's representative. Apart from MLA, the officer was also accused of misbehaving with other panchayat level people's representatives.

Speaker B K Arukha had to adjourn the House till 11.30 am as the pandemonium by Congress and BJP members continued demanding immediate action against the BDO and his transfer.

"Even though the Speaker has ordered an inquiry into the allegation, the BDO is publicly saying that he has strong connections. So, I would request the Speaker to transfer him within 24 hours," said the CPI(M) MLA.

"The BDO's goonda raj is concerning. We supported Laxman Munda for raising the issue in the House. We urged the Speaker to suspend the BDO by the end of the day," senior Congress member Suresh Routray said.

Seeking protection from the Speaker, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingha Mishra came down heavily on the government for blatant violation of section 47 of the Book Circular which clearly suggested that people's representatives must be respected by public servants.

The issue of officers again cropped up during Zero Hour when Mishra referred to a photograph of Handlooms, Textiles and Handicrafts Minister Rita Sahu with Chief Secretary PK Jena. He said bureaucrats seem to be calling the shots in Odisha.

Stating that ministers are "government", Mishra asked: "Should officers visit the government or the other way round?. Here minister goes to officer." Mishra showed a picture of the minister handing over a cheque of Rs 75,000 as a contribution to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund (CMRF) to the chief secretary.

Demanding an apology from the minister for going to the chief secretary violating the protocol, Mishra said: "The CS should also express regret for not suggesting the minister to hand over the cheque to CM instead of him." Mishra alleged that the Odisha is being run by bureaucrats while people's representatives are grossly ignored in the governance. He also alleged that ministers are not been cared by the officers.

The CLP leader also cited another instance where he alleged that a minister was ignored by officers. Though the Transport minister was asked to make a statement in the House over the recent 'drivers' strike', the chief secretary held a meeting with the agitating drivers in the absence of the transport minister, secretary and the commissioner.

Noting it a stray case, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Niranjan Pujari said that the CLP leader cannot say "ministers". He is diminishing the importance of ministers and threw an open challenge to opposition to show any picture of him with any officer in that situation. This irked the opposition BJP MLAs who created a ruckus while showing a picture of him (Parliamentary Affairs Minister) standing with folded hands in front of a secretary. As the pandemonium continued, Speaker adjourned the House till 4 PM.

When the House reassembled at 4 pm, the opposition continued their protest demanding transfer of the Koida BDO and raised slogan alleging that bureaucrats run government in Odisha instead of ministers.

Unable to run the House, the Speaker called an all-party meeting, adjourning the proceedings for 15 minutes.

On the instruction of the Speaker, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister made a statement in the House saying the government took the matter seriously and was examining for taking immediate action. After this statement of the minister, normalcy returned to the Assembly.

Pujari, however, outside the House, explained that he was doing "namaskar" to chief minister and the secretary was behind him. There is nothing wrong to do "namaskar" to the chief minister, Pujari said.

Revenue and Disaster Minister Pramila Mallick said the Opposition’s allegations were aimed at trimming the importance of ministers. PTI AAM RG

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