Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 1:
Trust Damodar Rout, Odisha’s Excise and Cooperation minister, to do it. Never short of words on any issue, this ‘conscience keeper’ of the ruling party today questioned the role of Speaker Niranjan Pujari in restoring order in the Assembly.
“The Speaker is supreme in the House. He has got enormous powers under the Constitution. But it appears as if he is unwilling to exercise his constitutional powers to bring order back to the House,” Rout said.
Expressing grave concern over the impasse in the winter session of the State Assembly that was disrupted for the tenth day in a row, he said this is not a good sign for democracy.
It is most unfortunate, he said, that the deadlock in the House has continued for so long. “The Speaker should take both the treasury benches and the opposition into confidence and find a solution to the impasse in the House after discussing the issue with the two sides,” the minister said.
He did, however, add that all political parties should also cooperate with the Speaker to ensure that normalcy is restored in the House.
Taking a line that appeared to contradict the BJD’s official position on the issue, Rout said; “Since both the Opposition and the ruling parties are not following proper procedures, it has set a bad precedent in the House.”
In his curt reaction to Rout’s comment, Speaker Niranjan Pujari said; “He is much senior to me. I must learn from him.”
The Opposition pounced on Rout’s comment to launch a fresh salvo against the Speaker. “Dama Babu is a cabinet minister. When a cabinet minister says something, it has to be taken as the view of the government as a whole and of the Chief Minister. So, why are they not removing the Speaker?” leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra asked.
Pujari’s predecessor as Speaker and Finance minister Pradip Amat, however, came to his successor’s rescue saying; “People have different opinions on the issue. But I feel the Speaker is running the House as per the rules.”
Rout’s bete noire Bishnu Das jumped into the fray demanding the resignation of the Excise minister.