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BJD ministers, MLAs skipping assembly session to campaign in Patkura: BJP

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: July 17, 2019  | 18:53 IST

Bhubaneswar, Jul 17 (PTI) Opposition BJP MLAs Wednesday drew the attention of Speaker S N Patro over the absence of ministers and ruling BJD MLAs from Odisha Assembly as they are allegedly busy campaigning for the July 20 Patkura assembly seat. The issue was raised by Leader of Opposition, Pradipta Kumar Naik of BJP during the Zero Hour. "Out of 21 members of the council of ministers, only eight ministers are present in the House on Wednesday," Naik pointed out. Of the 111 BJD MLAs in the Odisha Assembly, 61 were absent from the House on Wednesday, Naik said adding that the ministers were not available for replies during the Question Hour session. "Is not it (skipping the assembly) a disrespect to the House?," Naik asked. "While skipping the House, the MLAs and ministers are seen in television channels campaigning for Patkura assembly seat where polling is scheduled to take place on July 20." Polling in Patkura assembly seat was initially scheduled on April 29 simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in the state, but it could not be held due to the death of sitting BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20. The Election Commission then fixed May 19 as the new date for the polls in the seat but had further postponed the polling in the constituency due to the devastation caused by Cyclone Fani in Odisha. BJD has fielded Agarwal's widow Savitri Agarwal, while BJP has nominated its senior leader Bijoy Mohapatra at Patkura. Naik also alleged that the BJD has been misleading the people and violating the model code of conduct for the upcoming polls by distributing rice and monthly social welfare pension to beneficiaries in Patkura. He supported Congress MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati who had Tuesday suggested the Speaker to adjourn the house proceedings till the election process is over. "Proxy ministers are replying the questions put by the members," alleged Congress member S S Saluja. He said state Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari replied to questions on behalf of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister R P Swain while Planning and Convergence Minister Padmanabh Behera responded to queries for Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo. Both Swain and Sahoo are among the ministers engaged in the campaign for BJD candidate in Patkura, the opposition leaders alleged. Government Chief Whip Pramilla Mallick, however, said, "Required number of ministers and MLAs are present in the House." Meanwhile, a delegation of the BJP met the Odisha Chief Electoral Officer and lodged complaint against BJD, accusing it of violating of the model code of conduct. PTI AAM BDC KK KK IND IND

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