Odisha Govt Buckles Under Oppn ‘Boycott’ Pressure, Reschedules Assembly Speaker Election
Bhubaneswar: Amid the boycott call by opposition BJP and Congress, the Odisha government on Saturday decided to defer the Assembly Speaker election, scheduled for September 21, by a day.
The election to the Speaker post, which has remained vacant since the resignation of Bikram Keshari Arukha on May 12, will now be held at 9.30 am on September 22, coinciding with the beginning of monsoon session of the Assembly that will continue till October 4. The date for filing of nominations for the post has also been postponed to September 21 from September 18, sources said.
The opposition had expressed their inability to participate in the election process as it coincided with Nuakhai celebration, the mass agrarian festival of western Odisha. They had also accused the BJD government of “step-motherly” attitude towards the people of the region. “Despite being aware of the upcoming festival, the BJD government has chosen a date for the speaker election which is not favourable for the MLAs of western Odisha. It also refused to amend the date despite multiple requests. Even Loisingha MLA Mukesh Mahaling had protested against the decision,” BJP vice-president and Rengali MLA Nauri Naik told a presser on Friday.
The BJP’s decision came two days after the Congress announced to abstain from the speaker election for the same reason. “The government usually declares two-day holiday for Nuakhai. Nuakhai ‘Bhet Ghat’ is held the next day. Since half of the Congress MLAs, who hail from western Odisha districts, will be busy celebrating Nuakhai festival in their respective areas, they will not be able to participate in the election,” Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingh Mishra had said.