No tussle between ministers, officers:Patnaik in House

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Sep 26, 2023 12:27 AM IST

Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra of BJP said several questions raised by the party still remained unanswered

Bhubaneswar Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday said there is no “issue of ministers versus officers” in the state, and dismissed criticism over holding of people’s grievance meetings by officials belonging to the chief minister’s office (CMO).

Naveen Patnaik (HT Photo)
Naveen Patnaik (HT Photo)

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief, who was speaking in the state assembly during the second day of the ongoing monsoon session, also said that the CM Grievance Cell has always been handled by the CMO and ministers are not required to attend meetings in which people seek redressal of their problems.

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Patnaik’s remarks came amid mounting criticism from various quarters – both the ruling BJD and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress – over such meetings being held by CMO officials, including his private secretary VK Pandian.

Over the past few months, Pandian’s visit to all 30 districts triggered a controversy as both BJD and BJP leaders alleged that such moves undermined the state ministers.

Last week, senior MLA and media baron Soumya Ranjan Patnaik was expelled from the BJD for alleged anti-party activities, after he claimed that Pandian’s tour expenses may be as high as the amount spent on the Chandrayaan-3 mission.

In his address to the House, Patnaik said 57,442 petitions (grievances), most of which were community petitions, were received by the CMO in a span of six months. “A mammoth exercise was carried out in more than 190 locations in a period of six months. A total of 57,442 petitions were collected and as of date, 43,536 petitions have been resolved or disposed of. I would say with all conviction that this is one of the biggest and most effective peoples’ grievances redressal exercises carried out by any government in the country,” he told the House.

Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra of BJP said several questions raised by the party still remained unanswered.

“People of Odisha have voted for Naveen Patnaik and he is answerable to them and the Assembly. They rejected three questions raised by BJP MLA Nauri Nayak, who had asked for the date on which the official notification, directing his private secretary to tour Odisha, was issued and details on the districts, he was asked to visit, and number of grievances received and funds allocated by different departments to address them,” he said.

BJP leader Mohan Majhi said: “Our adjournment notice was that the democracy has collapsed and whether minister or secretary is superior. However, it is unfortunate the way the speaker rejected it (notice) without citing any reason. MLAs have the right to ask questions on the expenditure of departments. Similarly, we also wanted to know about the expenses incurred during CM’s secretary visits, arrangements, security and helicopter use. But without any reason, the speaker rejected it,” he said.

BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi and Congress leader Bijay Patnaik petitioned the DoPT, seeking punitive action against Pandian over alleged violation of All India Service (Conduct) Rules during his district visits.


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