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Stalemate continues over coal scam

Special Correspondent

Opposition rejects Naveen Patnaik's plea to attend Assembly


Congress legislators continue their boycott braving heavy rain

Some 11 employees have been suspended so far for their alleged involvement in the scam


BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday appealed to the legislators of Opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party to participate in the Assembly proceedings, but to no avail.

The Opposition legislators have been boycotting the proceedings of the Assembly since Monday to highlight their demand for the resignation of Urban Development Minister Badri Narayan Patra and School and Mass Education Minister Pratap Jena for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore coal scam.

Making a statement in the House, the Chief Minister requested the Opposition to participate in the proceedings saying that the Vigilance Department was probing into the coal scam and it will get to the truth.

The Opposition, however, rejected Mr. Patnaik's request and announced that they would not return until the two Ministers resigned from their posts.

The Chief Minister, who had given a clean chit to the two Ministers in his statement on Saturday last, had not stated that the Ministers in question were brought under the purview of the Vigilance probe, the Opposition legislators said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty and Government Chief Whip Rabi Narayan Pani also requested the Congress legislators sitting on dharna near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Assembly premises to end their boycott and participate in the proceedings. The Congress legislators braved the heavy rains and continued their dharna demanding ouster of Mr. Patra and Mr. Jena from their posts to ensure a fair investigation into the coal scam.

Resignation demanded

The legislators of both Congress and BJP had started their boycott of the proceedings of the House on Saturday in protest against the Chief Minister's statement giving a clean chit to the two Ministers.

As many as 11 government employees have been suspended so far for their alleged involvement in the coal scam.

However, both the Congress and the BJP have been demanding resignation of the two Ministers leading to the stalemate in the Assembly.

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