Bhubaneswar: Congress lawmakers in Odisha ‘purified’ the House by sprinkling ‘holy water’ on members present and the seats Saturday claiming that the Assembly had become tainted and impure as the Minister of State for Home, Dibya Shankar Mishra had entered it.
The opposition party along with BJP disrupted the House proceedings for the fourth consecutive day demanding the sacking of Mishra for his alleged close relation with the prime accused in the kidnap and murder of a Kalahandi woman teacher in October.
Congress whip Taraprasad Bahinipati arrived the House dressed like a priest chanting ‘Om Shanti’ and sprinkled “holy water” from a brass ‘kalasha’ (water container) with a leaf on members present in the House. Party MLA Mohammad Moquim read the namaz and his colleague C S Razeen Ekka recited from the Bible.
Congress MLA S S Saluja read out Sikh scriptures, while other party members beat cymbals.
The opposition members also staged demonstrations in the well of the House. BJP lawmakers waved placards against the minister and the ruling BJD and waved black scarves and the din prompted Speaker Surya Narayan Patro, whose requests to the MLAs to their seats fell on deaf ears, to adjourn the House till 4 pm and later for the day.
The House could be held for barely a total of three minutes.
“I sprinkled Ganga Jal, tulasi pani and gaumutra” (cow urine which is considered holy by Hindus) to purify the house as it has become impure due to the minister’s presence,” Bahinipati later said.
He said the Assembly is a temple for the 4.5 crore people of Odisha and lawmakers to Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities took part in the prayers to ensure justice for the slain woman teacher.
He alleged that Mishra was involved in the murder and his presence in the house was not acceptable.
Bahinipati also raised questions on Chief Minister Naven Patnaik’s continued absence in the House since the outbreak of the pandemic and urged him to dismiss the minister and take action against him.
BJD member Snehangini Chhuria described the Congress MLA’s act in the house as a “drama.”
“There is no point in paralysing the House after the chief minister’s statement. The CM has categorically said that justice will be done to the family members of the slain woman teacher,” she said.
The opposition parties have been demanding the sacking of the minister for allegedly shielding the prime accused in the heinous murder so that there could be an impartial investigation into the case since the commencement of the winter session of the Assembly December 1.
While BJP has been demanding a CBI probe into the matter, Congress has been in favour of a probe by High Court-monitored special investigation team.
Speaking on the murder, which rocked the state, for the first time Patnaik had Friday appealed to the opposition through the virtual medium to cooperate and ensure smooth functioning of the House as there were many important issues need to be discussed.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra later said impasse in the Assembly is not good for democracy and the speaker should take the initiative to resolve the issue, which is not taking place.
BJP deputy leader in the Assembly, B C Sethi said “There is no reason to cooperate with the government. The chief minister has not accepted any of our demands like handing over the case to CBI or sacking the minister. Therefore, the party will continue its stir inside and outside the Assembly,”