BHUBANESWAR: The Congress' stand on the Nayagarh minor girl murder case in the State Assembly has raised a murmur of dissent within the party with two senior MLAs questioning the decision of Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra not to insist on the resignation of Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo and support the government’s announcement of SIT probe into the incident.
Expressing unhappiness over the manner in which the issue was handled by the party in the House, Suresh Kumar Routray said Congress had raised the incident and demanded the resignation of the minister. "But CLP leader Narasingha Mishra asked us to drop the demand and participate in the Assembly proceedings after the government announced a court monitored SIT to probe," he said.
Asked whether the situation was managed by the ruling BJD, the senior Congress leader said, "Yes. What else. If it was not managed, why did we remain silent."
Routray also targeted president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee Niranjan Patnaik over the issue. "The OPCC president had written to all district presidents asking them to launch agitation over the issue. But after the CLP leader asked us to stop raising the issue in the Assembly, the OPCC president also asked us not to go ahead with the agitation," he said.
Supporting Routray, senior legislator Santosh Singh Saluja said the party MLAs had to remain silent on the instructions of the CLP leader. "Though I am not happy with the decision, we have to abide by his order," he said and added that the issue will be taken to the party High Command.
Saluja said this approach of the CLP leader helped the BJP gain political mileage as they continued their protests and demanded a CBI probe into the incident and sacking of the minister, forcing the State government to adjourn the House sine die.
However, the CLP leader said, never in the history a state government had agreed to a court-monitored probe into any incident. "Had any government written to the High Court in past for a probe into any incident?" Mishra asked, and added that a SIT probe will be more effective than a CBI probe.
He said that besides, as government had agreed to the Congress demand, what was the point in creating ruckus by joining hands with the BJP. Meanwhile, the Congress decision also came in for strong criticism from the BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra. He alleged that Sahoo, who is in the eye of the storm, had bought its silence.
"We have information that nine Congress leaders received money from the minister not to raise the issue in the State Assembly. The Congress MLAs of Odisha should clarify as to why they have now taken the side of Arun Sahoo," he said.
"I also want to ask Rahul Gandhi why he remained silent on this sensitive issue in Odisha when he lost no time to visit Hathras to show his compassion to the family of the Dalit girl. Let him clarify as to why his party has resorted to such a selective approach," he added.