Slippers, microphones and documents crumpled up into balls flew like missiles in the Odisha assembly on Saturday, as BJP members raged over the passage of a bill without discussion, provoking the Speaker to suspend three of them and order their immediate exit from the chamber. BJP members were up in arms against Speaker S N Patro after the House passed the Odisha Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill within minutes without any discussion.
Congress MLAs, too, were livid as the chair had turned down their notice for a discussion on alleged corruption in mining activities. Hardly had the Bill been passed in the pre-lunch session when opposition BJP members were on their feet, shouting at the Speaker.
Soon they began flinging slippers, microphones and paper balls that shot over the opposition benches and landed near the Speaker’s podium, plunging the assembly into chaos and leading to adjournment till lunch. When the House reassembled, the Speaker Patro announced suspension of BJP deputy leader in the House B C Sethi, Mohan Majhi, the party’s whip, and MLA J N Mishra for the duration of the entire session and asked them to leave immediately. The BJP has 22 MLAs in the 147-member Odisha assembly.
The action followed after Patro, Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha, Government Chief Whip Pramila Mallick, Leader of the Opposition P K Naik and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingha Mishra watched a video of the incident. The errant MLAs, however, remained defiant and staged a sit-in near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on the premises.
“Our members were suspended without giving them an opportunity to present their point of view. Our dharna will continue till tomorrow,” Leader of the Opposition P K Naik of the BJP told reporters. Suspended MLAs Mishra and Majhi said they had no regrets for hurling slippers and other objects at the Speaker’s podium.
“We were not given an opportunity to speak. We have done no wrong. The objects thrown by MLAs did not land even close to the Speaker’s podium,” Majhi said. Mishra accused the Speaker of working in a partisan manner “like a BJD member”, and blamed the chair for the fracas.
“I don’t care about suspension. I have been working for the people and will continue to do so. This suspension cannot stop me from performing my duty as people’s representative,” he declared nonchalantly. Government’s Chief Whip Pramila Mallick alleged the errant BJP MLAs acted the way they did to “remain in news”.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narsingha Mishra dubbed the incident as unfortunate but voiced displeasure over the Speaker rejecting his party’s notice for a discussion on illegal mining activities. “It is also unfortunate that bills are passed in the House without discussion. Bills should not be passed when the House is not in order,” he said.
Sethi said the BJP members were protesting against the Speaker as he did not allow Leader of the Opposition P K Naik to speak. “We also wanted a discussion on illegal mining activities and farmers issues. But the Speaker did not allow it. Is it democratic?” he said.