The Assembly on Monday witnessed fireworks over the question paper leak of the Plus- Two examination. The Congress took no time to bring the ‘Pyari factor’ to taunt the BJD and saw a palace intrigue behind the leaks to malign Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. People in the BJD and loyal to expelled leader Pyarimohan Mohapatra are behind this, the Congress members alleged, trying to embarrass the Government.
In fact, the Opposition went a step further and pinned their blame on Minister of State for Higher Education Badrinarayan Patro and his son. The members said the father-son duo has pushed more than two lakh students into an uncertain future and demanded the Minister’s resignation.
As the issue dominated proceedings during zero hour, the BJD was prompt to charge the Congress and link the leak to the recommendations made by Congress leaders for examination centres.
Deputy government chief whip Sanjay Dasburma said Congress MP from Kalahandi, Bhakta Charan Das, had recommended that Mahaling Anchalika College near Dharmagarh be made a centre, fully aware of its past record.
Also, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh had recommended that examination centre should be sanctioned at Karlamunda College in the district. This college is also in the suspect list, he said.
However, criticising the Government for trying to divert the issue, Bhupinder Singh said by blaming him and the MP, the BJD is trying to malign Kalahandi district.
Pradip Maharathi (BJD) said there is no reason for the Minister to resign and instead, strong action should be taken against the officials of the Higher Education department, including the Secretary. The issue also came up for discussion through an adjournment motion notice brought by the Congress members. Rejecting the charge that his party leaders were involved, Congress member Santosh Singh Saluja alleged that some BJD members had also recommended sanction of examination centres.
The former transport minister had recommended that the Panchkula College be tagged to Athmallik College, which is an examination centre, Saluja said and added that the Minister had pressurised the chairman of the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) to do this. ‘’The MLA is from our group (Pyarimohan’s), so do what he has recommended,’’ the Minister had told the CHSE chairman’’, Saluja said and demanded that the phone calls of the Minister should be investigated.
Saluja alleged that CHSE Deputy Secretary Debendra Behera was allowed to continue at Sambalpur even after serving eight years because of pressure from the Minister’s son. A CBI or judicial probe can unearth the truth, he said.
Nabakishore Das (Cong) said the issue should not be politicised and strong action should be taken against those found guilty.
Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan demanded that the Minister place the list of all ministers, MPs, MLAs and politicians who had recommended opening of examination centres.
However, ignoring the resignation demand, Minister Patro said the Crime Branch is already probing the matter and he would quit politics if found involved. He referred to question paper leaks during Congress rule in the 80s. He assured that despite rescheduling of physics and chemistry examinations, results will not be delayed and students will not be affected in any way. The Congress members walked out in protest.