Bhubaneswar: The monsoon session of the State Assembly began Tuesday with a controversy over an obituary reference to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The proceedings of the House started with a minute’s silence after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik moved the obituary motion.
Speaking on the motion, BJP legislator party leader KV Singh Deo said, “Vajpayee had provided a launch pad to Odisha’s present Chief Minister which he might have regretted had he been alive to see the way the state is governed today.”
This statement of the BJP leader created a controversy inside and outside the House. Inside the House, BJD member Debasis Samantray stood up and protested against Singh Deo’s remark. Talking to the media about the incident outside the Assembly, Singh Deo said his condolence address was not aimed at anybody but Vajpayee.
“What I had said was my personal feeling. I don’t expect him (Debasis) to agree with my speech wherein I had said that it was Vajpayee who had taught politics to Naveen Patnaik. Had the former Prime Minister been alive, he would have deeply regretted the mode of administration of the Chief Minister,” he asserted.
Expressing displeasure over the incident, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said the Chief Minister, who is the leader of the House, had brought up the condolence motion and all the members should have paid tributes to the departed souls. “But, the incident that took place in the House was grossly unfortunate. Let us not enter into more controversy as it will be disrespect to the former Prime Minister,” Mishra added.
Naveen paid reach tribute to Vajpayee, former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, former state minister Jadunath Das Mohapatra, former MLAs Suryamani Jena, Muralidhar Kuanar and Braja Kishore Mohanty and ex-cop Sanjay Majhi who sacrificed his life during a Maoist attack.
“It is a great national loss, as much as a personal loss for me. I will always cherish my association with Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, especially as it was during my initial years in public life. He embodied a unique combination of grace, idealism and tolerance in politics. A true statesman who was admired across the political spectrum,” the CM told the House.
“He was a man of firm principles and an idealistic poet. A true democrat, who chose to lose on the floor of the House upholding the values of our Constitution. It is truly the end of an era,” the CM stated.
In his address, Mishra said, “Despite the difference in political ideology, I was profoundly impressed by his personality, behaviour and human touch. He believed in democracy and did not spare anybody who was not observing the ‘Raj Dharma’ whether he/she belonged to his party or the opposition,” he pointed out.
Describing Somnath Chatterjee as a great lawyer of the country and an outstanding parliamentarian, Mishra said he was the tallest and impartial Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He also described the death of Karunanidhi as a great loss to the nation.
Singh Deo said, the former PM, was the greatest politician and statesman of this country. India has lost its worthy son and the people a visionary leader. He was a poet, philosopher, thinker, a great orator and a distinguished parliamentarian. Not only did he lead a coalition government of 33 parties, but also took India’s economic development to greater heights. After the motion was moved, Speaker Pradip Amat paid his condolences and announced cancellation of all proceedings for a day.