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Assembly stalled;Opposition seek Ministers' resignation

Written by: Staff

Bhubaneswar, Mar 22: The Opposition in Orissa Assembly today stalled the proceedings during the zero hour demanding resignations of State Excise Minister Kalandi Behera and Science and Technology Minister R N Nanda alleging their involvement in a liquor tragedy.

Though both the ministers described the charge as ''baseless and unfortunate'', a determined Opposition trooped into the well and shouted slogans forcing the Speaker to adjourn the house thrice and finally for lunch.

Trouble erupted during the zero hour when Congress member L B Mohapatra demanded that Science and Technology Minister R N Nanda resign following his indictment by the Inquiry Commission in the 2001 Puri Liquor tragedy.

His party colleague Umesh Swain alleged that Excise Minister Kalandi Behera's son had a business deal with the liquor traders and demanded his resignation too.

Members from the treasury bench objected to the allegation leveled by the Opposition and stood up to counter the charges.

This led to pandemonium in the House as the Opposition trooped into the well and started chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the two ministers.

Speaker Maheswar Mohanty adjourned the House for 15 minutes initially, twice subsequently and finally for lunch till 1500 hrs.

The excise minister who took exception to the remark of Mr Umesh Swain,stood up to clarify his stand and said he would resign if the member proved that his son had any business deal with the liquor traders. Mr Behera dared the Congress member to prove his charge or quit from the membership.

State Science and Technology Minister Rabi Narayan Nanda too refuted the opposition allegation linking him in the 2001 Puri hooch tragedy.

Responding to Congress's L B Mohapatra's charge that calls were made from his residence to a liquor mafia involved in the Puri liquor tragedy,Mr Nanda said neither had he talked to any liquor mafia nor did he have links with them.

He, however, clarified that several people had an access to the telephone installed at his residence and it was not possible for him to keep a track of all the calls made from the telephone.

Mr.Nanda further said nowhere had the Inquiry Commission indicted him in the Puri liquor tragedy and accused the Opposition of unnecessary raking up an issue having no truth.

But the Opposition insisted that they would not let the house run till the two ministers resigned from their post owning 'moral responsibility' for their involvement.

As pandemonium prevailed, Speaker Maheswar Mohanty adjourned the house for 15 minutes and subsequently twice more and finally for lunch till 1500 hours.


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