Bhubaneswar: The Congress, Thursday, took potshots at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for remaining absent in the Assembly during a discussion relating to his home portfolio, referring to his direction to the BJD MLAs to ensure full attendance in the House.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra made the comment in a reply to a debate on the home department by its minister of state DS Mishra in place of Patnaik, who holds the charge of the home department.
“If a teacher preaches students to speak truth and he himself utters lies all along, what will be the fate of the state?” Mishra remarked while referring to Patnaik’s instruction to the party MLAs to ensure full attendance in the house and sincerely taking part in the business of the Assembly.
“It is unfortunate that the chief minister is absent when the house is discussing on the most sensitive issue relating to his department,” the Congress legislature party leader said.
Patnaik was present in the house during the Question Hour which was adjourned till 12 noon in view of the pandemonium by the Opposition members over the mysterious death of a woman Panchayat Extension Officer in the state.
The Congress leader said “If the chief minister himself is not serious about the businesses in the Assembly, how can he expect his party members to actively participate in it?
While instructing the BJD MLAs to be punctual and participate in the businesses in the Assembly, Patnaik had also asked the government chief whip Pramila Mallick to report to him on the attendance of the party lawmakers, particularly the first timers, everyday.
Senior BJD member Amar Prasad Satpathy, however, came to the chief minister’s defense and said that the government is a collective responsibility.
“Any minister can reply to the debate on behalf of any minister. The chief ministers absence should not be an issue as the MoS home is present during the debate and replied to queries of the members,” Satpathy, a former minister, said.
When contacted, government chief whip Pramila Mallick said the chief minister’s direction to the BJD MLAs had its impact on the very first day.
“About 95 per cent of BJDs 113 MLAs, Thursday, attended the House,” Mallick said.
Replying to a question, Mallick, however, said some members could not make it Thursday as they were busy in some other work.
The winter session of the Odisha Assembly began Wednesday and it will end on December 19.
After massive victory of the BJD in the state polls this year, Patnaik became chief minister of Odisha for the fifth consecutive term since 2000.