Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and a dozen ministers were conspicuously absent in the state Assembly Wednesday in order to take part in the Biju Janata Dal’s electioneering in Patkura Assembly constituency.
Ministers Arun Sahoo, Ranendra Pratap Swain and Samir Dash who were supposed to answer members’ queries during Zero Hour in the day were missing. Sahoo, Swain and Dash are among the star campaigners who have been drafted for campaigning in Patkura. Naveen himself visited Patkura Wednesday.
Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari answered questions related to departments handled by Sahoo and Swain. Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera replied on behalf of School and Mass Education Minister Samir Dash under authorisation from the Speaker. Along with ministers, some ruling party MLAs have skipped important discussions in the Budget Session.
BJP and Congress members raised the issue and urged Speaker SN Patro to adjourn the House until the completion of Patkura polls.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik said, “Out of 21 members of the Council of Ministers, only eight are present in the House today.”
Of the 111 BJD members in the Assembly, 61 were absent Wednesday, Naik said adding the ministers were not present during the Question Hour. “Is not it (skipping discusions) disrespect to the House,” the BJP leader asked.
“The MLAs and ministers are visible on TV channels campaigning for the candidate in Patkura where polling is scheduled for July 20,” he said.
Naik also alleged the BJD has been misleading the people and violating the model code of conduct for the upcoming polls by distributing rice and social welfare pensions to beneficiaries in Patkura.
He also supported the contention of MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati (Cong) who had Tuesday suggested that the Speaker adjourn the proceedings till the completion of elections in Patkura. “Proxy ministers are replying to questions put by the members,” said MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi (BJP).