Ruling BJD members were left red faced with the Opposition Congress and BJP mourning the death of several drought-hit farmers across the state as the winter session of the Assembly commenced with the customary obituary references of four former MLAs who had died recently.
The Opposition then went on to stall proceedings demanding suspension of the Question Hour to discuss drought and farmers suicide. A few Congress members were seen displaying banners while the BJP members were distributing‘ladoos’ (to take a dig at the ruling BJD, one of whose members had remarked ‘let the opposition provide amar ladoos to prevent what they allege to be farmers suicide’).
The Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House till lunch. But the protests continued in the post lunch session finally culminating in a walk out by the Opposition.
The Supplementary Budget was presented by Finance Minister Pradip Amat. Expectedly, trouble started as soon as the Assembly met for the day.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik moved the obituary reference to condole the death of former members—Chandrasekhar Pradhan, Rabindra Kumar Das, Raj Kishore Pradhan and Bidhu Bhushan Praharaj.
He expressed his condolences and requested the Speaker to convey it to the bereaved family members of the deceased leaders.
Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra, Rabindra Naik (BJP) Laxaman Munda (CPI) and Speaker Niranjan Pujari also condoled the death of the former MLAs.
In doing so, however, both Mishra and Naik added a few lines to the obituary list by expressing their grief over the death of several farmers in the state due to crop failure.
The departure from the usual practice stumped everybody.
Soon, the Leader of Opposition Mishra stood up to request the Speaker to suspend the Question Hour and discuss drought and farmers suicide.
He pointed out that he had submitted a notice to this effect. Speaker Pujari did not concede and there were noisy scenes with Congress members displaying banners and the BJP too voicing protests.
Within minutes the Speaker adjourned the House till lunch.
On resumption, Mishra said more than 111 farmers have committed suicide during the last two months. While the members of the deceased family claimed that the deaths were due to crop loss and loan overburden the government was not ready to admit it, he alleged.
Mishra said two to four farmers were committing suicide every day in the state. It is a serious and sensitive issue for the state and the issue should be discussed.
The Congress, he said had given a notice yesterday for a discussion on the issue, but instead of allowing a discussion on the issue the government hurriedly moved a bill for a private organization which was not very important.
The copy of the bill was not even circulated to the members. But still the bill found a place in the order paper, Mishra charged.
He led the Congress walkout.
Rabindra Naik (BJP) said the farmers suicide was a black spot on the image of the state.
He said although the farmers were committing suicide due to crop loss and loan overburden the Ministers and MLAs of the ruling party were attributing the deaths to love affairs and liquor.
He demanded the government to publish a white paper stating there as on and the number of farmers that have died.
Naik said it was also matter of regret that the notice of the leader of Opposition for a discussion was not accepted.
He wanted to know the justification for moving a bill for a private organisation.
The BJP members too staged a protest walkout. In the absence of the Opposition, the Higher Education Minister Pradip Panigrahi introduced the Birla Global University, Odisha Bill 2018 and Finance Minister Pradip Kumar Amat presented the first Supplementary budget for 2015- 16.