House Not In Order! BJD MLAs ‘Flouting’ Naveen Diktat Raises Eyebrows

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s advise to his party legislators to remain present in the Assembly has seemingly fallen on deaf ears, triggering discussion in political circles.

Tuesday saw farmers parking paddy-laden vehicles in front of the house of MLAs in Sambalpur district in protest against the centralised token system that has ostensibly delayed the procurement process. And when the issue was discussed in the Odisha Assembly through a notice served by the BJP for an adjournment motion, most of the BJD MLAs were conspicuous by their absence.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra came down heavily on the ruling party whil pointing out the absence of BJD members when important issues were being discussed in the House during the last several days. This despite a directive from the Leader of the House Naveen Patnaik to his party MLAs, before the beginning of the ongoing Winter Session, to attend the assembly religiously.
Naveen had also asked government chief whip Pramila Mallick to send him attendance reports of the party MLAs in the House at 11.30 am every day. However, the party did not impose any whip in this regard.

“Where are the BJD members in the House when a debate is going on the farmers’ problem? Despite the Chief Minister’s direction, the treasury bench seats remain empty,” Narasingha said.

When the senior Congress leader raised farmers’ issues and delay in paddy procurement, only three ministers and 16 MLAs were present in the House. By the time he completed his statement, four more BJD MLAs and one Minister joined in taking the number to 21.

However, this too is a poor score considering the fact that BJD has 112 members in the 147-member Odisha assembly.

This shows their seriousness about the issue, Narasingha taunted. On Saturday, he had criticised the Chief Minister for not remaining present in the House during a discussion on an adjournment motion notice on law and order situation in the state.


The government chief whip, however, defended her party colleagues, saying that most of the treasury bench MLAs were in the lobby of the assembly and following the proceedings. “Our MLAs are attending the winter session regularly and we are submitting daily attendance report,” she said.

In his defence, Rairakhol BJD MLA and deputy chief whip Rohit Pujari, who was not present during the discussion and his was one of the houses targeted by farmers, said the MLAs had moved to the lobby for refreshments since the debate took place during peak lunch time (1 pm and 3.30 pm).

Senior BJD MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy said that non-participation in the adjournment debate cannot be concluded as being non-serious on a particular issue. He had to skip the debate, ostensibly to prepare for other issues that were to be raised post-lunch.


In 2018 assembly elections, farmers’ issues had dug graves for the BJP which lost the Hindi heartland, suffering defeat in three of its bastions — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Learning a quick lesson from the BJP’s poll debacle, Naveen unveiled the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme in January, four months ahead of the 2019 elections in Odisha. The move was seen as a political masterstroke, which paid dividends as BJD captured power for the fifth time in the state.

The BJD government, which was hailed for the KALIA scheme, has landed in a soup with protests pouring onto the streets. The system, which the government claimed was a step towards transparency and aimed at saving farmers from being exploited by middlemen and millers, has left the farmers in a lurch with distress sale staring them in the face, allege farmer leaders and Opposition BJP and Congress lawmakers. W

While the procurement process was to start on November 1, delay on the part of the millers to sign agreement and submit their security deposit, delayed the process by 14 days. Even on Monday, the procurement process started in only 10 out of 172 mandis, fuelling resentment among the tillers.

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