The eight-day monsoon session of Odisha Assembly began on a stormy note on Wednesday as opposition Congress created ruckus demanding a special debate on the situation arising out of the prevailing dry spell which has sparked fears of a drought. Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra raised the issue as soon as the Question Hour commenced after the House made obituary references to some departed members, martyred soldiers and frontline personnel who succumbed to COVID-19.
Even as Speaker S N Patro accepted BJP's notice on adjournment motion debate on the dry spell after the Question Hour, Congress MLAs demanded that all business be cancelled and a special discussion be held on the situation, which they described as "most urgent". As Patro gave a go-ahead to the Question Hour, Congress legislators led by Jeypore MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati trooped into the Well of the House and shouted slogans against the government, labelling it as "anti-farmer". The Speaker adjourned the House for one hour after his repeated appeals to bring back normalcy failed as some members of the grand old party attempted to climb his podium.
The agitated Congress legislators alleged that the BJD government has failed to address farmers' problems as a drought situation looms large over 27 of the 30 districts in the state. However, normalcy returned to the House when it reassembled after the one-hour adjournment. Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo will reply to the debate.
Leader of the House and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier in the day moved the obituary reference to ex-MLAs including former minister Bijayshree Routray who died recently. Besides the chief minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Pradipta Kumar Naik of the BJP participated in the session through video conference. While Patnaik was connected from his residence, Nayak, who is under treatment at the AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, joined from the hospital.
"I haven't recovered fully but my priority will always be to sincerely carry out the responsibilities people have bestowed upon me; I will attend the Assembly session virtually from the hospital and draw the attention of the Odisha government towards all issues of the public," Naik tweeted. The House commenced the monsoon session with strict adherence to COVID guidelines, as the police imposed prohibitory orders surrounding the Assembly premises.
Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commissioner S K Priyadarshi said that 35 police platoons along with QRTs have been deployed around the assembly.