BHUBANESWAR: BJP MLA Radharani Panda on Thursday created ripples in the Assembly by alleging that a woman was asked to remove her black petticoat before being allowed to enter the venue of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s public meeting at Bargarh on November 25.
Panda was speaking in the House after question hour on the issue of police asking women to remove black stoles (Odhani) before allowing them to attend a Government programme attended by the CM in Sundargarh district on December 4. Speaker Niranjan Pujari had suspended zero hour to take up discussion on the demand for grants of Home Department.
The BJP MLA said she came to know about the incident from media reports. She also alleged that a 5-year-old child died due to suffocation at the CM’s meeting.
Panda also alleged that a policeman forcibly removed her black shawl while she was proceeding to the CM’s meeting on November 23. Panda said even though she was officially invited to the meeting, she was humiliated. The BJP MLA’s speech was disrupted throughout by the BJD members.
Government chief whip Anant Das, however, wanted to know why Panda did not raise the issue earlier though the winter session of the Assembly had started from December 1. The CM, he said, has already given a statement on the incident that took place at Sundargarh.
Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said though Congress and BJP are poles apart ideologically, he intervened in the discussion to to give protection to opposition members. “If the CM is shocked over Sundargarh incident, what prevented him from saying sorry to Panda?” he asked.
“Nobody should tolerate such incidents. How can police do this without direction from the CM or CM’s Office. No police will dare touch a woman MLA. This is not democracy, rather dictatorship,” Mishra said.
He also criticised the Speaker’s action of not allowing Panda to speak. Leader of BJP Legislature Party KV Singhdeo alleged that Panda was not allowed to speak in the House for the last four days. The Speaker, however, said he had not allowed the MLA to speak as zero hour had been suspended.
Earlier, BJP members led by Panda sat on dharna in the well of the House after the Speaker denied permission to her to speak. The House was adjourned thrice due to the pandemonium by BJP members seeking permission of the Speaker to allow Panda to speak. Finally, the Speaker allowed Panda to speak even though there was no zero hour in the House on the day.