BHUBANESWAR: The Budget session of the Assembly resumed on a stormy note on Wednesday. Congress members rushed to the well accusing the State Government of keeping the House in the dark about the drought package and surrender policy for the Maoists.
The issue was raised during the question hour when Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surjya Narayan Patro was replying to a question on the Government’s preparedness to tackle the heat wave conditions during the summer. Criticising the Government for not taking the House into confidence, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh alleged that the Government issued a notification on the drought package for the farmers on February 29. Singh said the Government could have made the announcement in the House before the first phase was adjourned. But the members came to know about the package from the newspapers on March 2, he said.
The Congress MLAs trooped into the well shouting slogans and holding placards. As the angry 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 from rushing to the Speaker’s dais.
The scene was repeated when the House reassembled. Revenue Minister Patro’s attempt to pacify the Opposition by giving a reply failed to yield any result.
Deputy Speaker Sananda Marandi’s repeated appeal to the members to vacate the well could not restore normalcy. 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 the package had nothing new, but repetition 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 Satpathy asked the Minister to place the copy of the State Election Commissioner’s (SEC) order preventing the Government from making any announcement on drought package in the House. “How can the SEC prevent the Government from making announcement during natural calamities. As the House is supreme, the SEC cannot put any restriction on the government, particularly during natural calamities,” Satpathy said.
Singhdeo said the revised surrender policy for the Maoists should have been announced in the House. Describing it as a breach of privilege, he demanded that the Minister should make a statement on the issue.