CRIES OF STARVATION WAYLAY THE ASSEMBLY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Legislative Assembly could not proceed with its scheduled business today, excepting customary presentation of Budget at the fag end of the day as cries of starvation in Nuapada district concussed its commencement.

A local TV channel (OTV) had telecasted details of how starved people of Sinapalli in Nuapada district have started feeding on limestone sans any food for survival.

As the House concluded obituary mention on its former members and time for oral answer to questions arrived, Leader of Opposition, J.B.Pattanaik, wanted the Speaker to stop scheduled business so that the members may concentrate on the gross misfortune that starvation has pushed people into.

The Speaker did not agree. It led to vehement protests from Opposition benches. And, to adjournment.

As and when the House was buzzed to resume, the same stalemate surfaced. The only refuge was adjournment that continued till 5 pm, when before end of the day, the Budget got entry into business.

Feeding on stone is a false propaganda: Minister, Revenue.

Before presentation of the budget, the Speaker called upon the Revenue Minister to make a statement in order to end the turmoil.

He stoutly denied the TV report and marshaled the ever-discernible official versions that the people projected in the screen as thriving on limestone had enough food at home to eat.

Even as a House committee was announced to probe into the matter and submit its report seven days before the scheduled closure of this session, the Minister informed that criminal cases have been registered under the Sinapalli Police Station against the two journalists of OTV, under charges of sedition and other offences for having manufactured the false propaganda.

It is interesting to note that OTV is a commercial venture of the house of Baijayant Panda, a BJD member of parliament where as the Revenue Minister belongs to BJP, though an ally on records, a rival in reality.

One is yet to see if OTV stands with its story or abandons its reporters in the labyrinth of vested interest prosecution.

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