Congress asks Naveen to quit on ''dal scam'' issue

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 14 (PTI) Opposition Congress todayasked Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to resign as hisgovernment had been charged with feeding ''rotten pulses'' tochildren and pregnant women.

Questioning the ''moral yardstick'' of Patnaik, theleader of opposition Bhupinder Singh told reporters outsidethe assembly "if Pramila Mallik could take moralresponsibility and resign as Minister of Women and ChildDevelopment, why not the chief minister".

Singh, whose party boycotted the governor''s address onopening of the budget session, said the same yardstick shouldbe used for others - against the Urban Development MinisterBadri Narayan Patra and School and Mass Education MinisterPratap Jena - for their alleged involvement in anotherscandal, ''the coal scam''.

Mallik, who was WCD minister since 2004, had tenderedresignation on February 5, a day after the anti-corruptionvigilance department submitted its report to the government.

The chief minister, however, termed as unfortunate theboycott of governor''s address by Congress and protest in theassembly by BJP and implored the opposition "to behave in aresponsible manner" in view of the importance of the budgetsession.

"Let me make it clear that anyone involved in supplyof substandard ''dal'' will face criminal proceedings," he said.

The government had already taken several steps toimprove the situation relating to supply of pulses to schoolsand anganwadi centres, Patnaik said.

In another development, the state BJP leadership todayheld a rally at Bhadrak demanding resignation of the chiefminister over the dal scam.

"We will demand Patnaik''s ouster both outside andinside the assembly", BJP state President Jual Oram said.

Opposition Congress members also staged a silentdharna in Berhampur town while the women wing of the partyannounced its plan to gherao assembly over ''dal'' scam onFebruary 17.

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